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Tang Dynasty Mulan by suburbanbeatnik Tang Dynasty Mulan by suburbanbeatnik
So here's Mulan, my next Disney heroine in my 'historically accurate Disney heroine' series. (The others can be seen here). I decided to go in a different direction for this-- instead of re-imagining one of the movie costumes in a more historical context, I re-imagined the costume completely. My somewhat selfish reason is that I find the generic 'ancient-y' han-fu in the movie to be pretty boring, especially when the actual history of Chinese costume is fascinating, varied and incredibly rich.

This particular costume is called a 'large-sleeved gown,' and it is a famous style from the Tang dynasty period, which is arguably the first period in human history to feature actual honest-to-God low-cut gowns. The famous painting by Zhou Fang-- "Beauties with Flowery Hairpins", from the late 8th century AD-- features this style. (This style is also the basis of the amazing costumes in Curse of the Golden Flower, which I watched for inspiration.) The story of Mulan is usually set during the Sui or Tang period-- there is a decent run-down of the variants of the legend here-- so I felt that putting it in this period was not unsuitable (especially since the movie itself is so generic, and pretty much impossible to date). I was inspired by the color scheme in the final dress she wore in the movie-- but put more of an emphasis on the crimson and turquoise, since that color scheme would be more indicative of a mature, confident woman. She holds her father's sword, and the emperor's seal hangs around her wrist (one wouldn't want to ruin the lines of the gown, after all).

If you're interested in Chinese costume history, then I highly recommend Gao Chunming's seminal book, 5000 Years of Chinese Costume, which I used for research. It's kind of expensive, but you can probably get it from the library.
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:iconsuburbanbeatnik:
suburbanbeatnik Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you!
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:iconmoonlitinuyasha1985:
moonlitinuyasha1985 Featured By Owner Jul 13, 2014
You're welcome!
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:iconcourtneytrowbridge:
CourtneyTrowbridge Featured By Owner Oct 24, 2012  Professional Digital Artist
Ooh she came out beautiful! I love her face!
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:iconsuburbanbeatnik:
suburbanbeatnik Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks so much! I'm glad you like her. :D
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:iconseekhim:
SeekHim Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2012  Hobbyist Writer
Stunning. I love your series!

GOD bless
John 3:16
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:iconsuburbanbeatnik:
suburbanbeatnik Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you! :)
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:iconyeahgirl11:
yeahgirl11 Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
She's beautiful. :) I agree, the han-fu in the movie was pretty boring. Out of all the types of clothes they could've drawn on her, they chose that? :XD: Your design is cooler. Imagine trying to walk around with all that cloth, haha.
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:iconsuburbanbeatnik:
suburbanbeatnik Featured By Owner Oct 30, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you! I'm sure those ladies had plenty of practice, though. :)
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:iconzantror:
zantror Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012
I love it and the Tang Dynasty is my favorite. I knew the second I saw it the painting you had used as the reference. I do have to disagree with the date though. The earliest form of the story is from the Wei Dynasty, called MuLan Shi, and almost all versions of the poem attribute the story to that period. The most popular version in China is from the Ming Dynasty though and given the look of the buildings in the movie, that is the one Disney used as the basis.

I LOVE Gao Chunming's book. I would kill for a similar book of Western fashion, but other than ancient clothes, I don't think they would translate well into the flat format he uses.
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:iconfirecat15:
Firecat15 Featured By Owner Apr 21, 2014
I personally think Disney's Mulan is set in the 15th century since that's when the Forbidden City was built.
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:iconsuburbanbeatnik:
suburbanbeatnik Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
*nods* Okay. Glad you like it though! :)
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:iconauroramaryte:
AuroraMaryte Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012   Artisan Crafter
I agree. I like your takes on Disney heroines so much better than the actual Disney designs. There really is just no comparison.

And now I wish I was Asian because this is my new favorite of yours. I loves her outfit, the colors are amazing and I didn't know much about fashion in that era in China so this is a wonderful learning experience too.
Like others I thought you would just tweak an outfit Mulan wore in the movie. I wasn't fearing that you might do that because I figured it would look great like Aurora's, which is kind of more of an intense tweak than a total reimagining of the dress. But regardless, I'm much happier with this total redesign. It's exquisite. If I was Asian I'd make this in a heartbeat. I just waaaaant this outfit. Definitely going to get an Asian friend to do this for the 'historical princess' group I told you I'll be doing.
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:iconsuburbanbeatnik:
suburbanbeatnik Featured By Owner Nov 11, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
I hope the historical princess group is still on. I'd love to see what you think of Esmeralda! I'm still very fond of Mulan too, of course. :)
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:iconauroramaryte:
AuroraMaryte Featured By Owner Nov 12, 2012   Artisan Crafter
It's still on. It's happening no matter what, don't worry.

And I really love Esmeralda too! It wasn't what I expected it would look like based on how you described it before, I don't know why, but I really like it. It's awesome that you found those old tapestries to use as reference.
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:iconsuburbanbeatnik:
suburbanbeatnik Featured By Owner Nov 13, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Awesome! Don't forget to leave a comment on Esmeralda... for some reason I'm not getting the traction on her that I got with Mulan. I think it's because she's not a princess. Dude, what is up with everyone's fascination with princesses anyway? :P
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:iconyeahgirl11:
yeahgirl11 Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
And now I wish I was Asian because this is my new favorite of yours.

LOL! :laughing: I know what you mean! :XD: Pretty cool how you're going to do a historical princess group too. :nod:
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:iconauroramaryte:
AuroraMaryte Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012   Artisan Crafter
(Oh and just ignore the mispellings. My iPod likes to be a jerk and autocorrect things weirdly. And it also made it almost impossible to type and then submit my comment. -.- )
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:icongryffgirl:
Gryffgirl Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012
Beautiful! I prefer your versions of the heroines to Disney's! :heart:
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:iconsuburbanbeatnik:
suburbanbeatnik Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Wow, thanks! That's quite a compliment! :)
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:iconhatheny-lurey-dralaw:
Hatheny-Lurey-Dralaw Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012   Writer
Wow! Absolutely stunning! :D
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:iconsuburbanbeatnik:
suburbanbeatnik Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you! :)
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:iconndlevett:
NDLevett Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Very nice work !
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:iconsuburbanbeatnik:
suburbanbeatnik Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks!
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:iconndlevett:
NDLevett Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2012  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
You*re welcome!
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:iconrobinraven222:
robinraven222 Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012
I got to see this in person!!! Beyond gorgeous! No one does luscious, exquisitely researched, emotionally nuanced, leap right off the pages art work quite like you do!
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:iconsuburbanbeatnik:
suburbanbeatnik Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Awww, thanks! You're too kind! :hug:
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:iconatram95:
atram95 Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012  Hobbyist Artist
Your draw is Magnificent!! Congratulation I love it!!
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:iconsuburbanbeatnik:
suburbanbeatnik Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you!
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:iconcomic-chic:
comic-chic Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012  Professional
love this one!
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:iconsuburbanbeatnik:
suburbanbeatnik Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks! :D
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:iconaugustsilk:
AugustSilk Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
Wow, really well done. I LOVED Curse of the Golden Flower as well, and drew nothing but bright opulence after watching that film. Periodical costume is great to research and reproduce. And people say it's not worth delving into the past: I say ha! Delve away for treasure!
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:iconsuburbanbeatnik:
suburbanbeatnik Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you! That's exactly it. Originally I thought "Curse" just made up everything, but I was pretty amazed when I started looking into actual Tang styles and I found out the dresses in the movie were based on an actual fashion. So that was really cool. :D
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:iconaugustsilk:
AugustSilk Featured By Owner Oct 23, 2012  Student Traditional Artist
that director is one for accuracy and colour. its like being on some hyper sensitive drug to colour to watch his films. great stuff. im very picky about accuracy of culture and fashions etc
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:iconsuburbanbeatnik:
suburbanbeatnik Featured By Owner Oct 31, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Yeah, definitely. I love his work!
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:iconzdforrest:
ZDForrest Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Well done!!
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:iconsuburbanbeatnik:
suburbanbeatnik Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you! :)
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:iconl33tnoob12:
L33tnoob12 Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012
How awesome would it be if Mulan was in the Dynasty Warriors franchise as DLC or something
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:iconsuburbanbeatnik:
suburbanbeatnik Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
That would be cool!
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:icongorgeouszombiegirl:
gorgeouszombiegirl Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
This is gorgeous! :)
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:iconsuburbanbeatnik:
suburbanbeatnik Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you!
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:iconkissmeimdanish:
KissMeImDanish Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012
This is amazing! I had really been afraid you might just try to draw her in her matchmaker dress or armor! So glad you really went into depths with researching and redoing it!
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:iconsuburbanbeatnik:
suburbanbeatnik Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks! I had no idea what I was going to do at first, but when I found out that many earlier versions of the story took place during the Tang period, that was when I got my idea. :D
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:iconredambrosia:
redambrosia Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
This is beautiful. Such a cool idea, historically accurate dinsey "princesses". Good job!
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:iconsuburbanbeatnik:
suburbanbeatnik Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you!
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:iconidontknowwhoyouknow:
Idontknowwhoyouknow Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012  Hobbyist General Artist
Wow, it's really nice! Costume reminds me of 'The Myth'.
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:iconsuburbanbeatnik:
suburbanbeatnik Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you!
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:iconenginemonkey:
enginemonkey Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012
Her face is so serene. Very striking image.
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:iconsuburbanbeatnik:
suburbanbeatnik Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thanks! :)
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:iconmadrinabastet:
MadrinaBastet Featured By Owner Oct 21, 2012
This is beautiful!
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:iconsuburbanbeatnik:
suburbanbeatnik Featured By Owner Oct 22, 2012  Professional Traditional Artist
Thank you!
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