The Nail Guards of Zhen Huan Zhuan

Chinese DramasDrama ReviewsMisc

I am always curious about the beautiful jewelry and fashion that are in the ancient Chinese dramas.  The Legend of Zhen Huan is full of beautiful details, and the fingernail guards are no exception! 

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It is rather hard to find information about Qing Dynasty fashion, but I found a wonderful article which explains the significance of Chinese nail guards in  HERE, which I will reference now. 🙂

So, what is a “nail guard”?  As you can see in the picture above, the concubines in the LZH wear long pointed covers on their fingers.  I thought this was mainly just for looks but according to the article, these nail guards are also a symbol of status because they showed that the women did not have to work.  The nail guards also have some practical use, as they were supposed to protect the women’s fingernails.  Longer fingernails were also a sign of status.   

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Although it’s hard for me to find good screenshots of the nail guards, they are very prominent throughout the drama.  Almost every concubine is wearing them!  I find them to be very elegant because it shows how graceful the women’s hands are.  When they move their hands, they move with extra care and grace because of the dainty nail guards.  And they are freaking LONG, just look at that one the Empress is wearing!  Honestly I really want to try one on but I know I would never wear one in everyday life because I’m pretty sure I would poke my eyes out.  T____T

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I think it is also interesting that the nail guards are still a fashion accessory that can be used to suit each concubine’s personality and style.  Some are made of gold with what seems to be an inlaid design.  Others are silver and have floral designs.  In the case of the Empress, her golden nail guards make her look regal and dignified.  Zhen Huan’s golden nail guards (first pic) may look more luxurious.  Mei Zhuang’s nail guards also suit her graceful composure. 

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In this picture here you can get a closer look at how they wear the nail guards on their fingers.  Many of them in the drama do not actually enclose the entire finger. 

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*Update*:  Got another good shot of Zhen Huan’s nail guards! ^

Source: Kellysearsmith.livejournal.com

heisui

I'm heisui, an Asian drama blogger and the creator of My Drama Tea. I love stories and writing, so I watch dramas and blog. I especially have a penchant for Japanese and Chinese dramas, and those hidden gems that are waiting to be discovered. Oh, and I'm Legend of Zhen Huan-obsessed!
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  • Thanks HeiSui! That’s awesome how detailed you are to include the nail. It does make the women look very graceful with those nail guards. It adds that special touch to it. One thing I didn’t know about the guard is that the length represents the sign of status. Thanks for knowledge.

    • I think they believed that the actual fingernail length mattered, not so much the length of the nail guard. However I think the longer nail guards definitely look much more extravagant and graceful.

  • I always wondered why women wore them in historical Chinese dramas. Now I know! I can’t even wear press on nails without having problems doing normal tasks, thus nail guards would be even worse and dangerous for me 😛 But they are very pretty. Thanks for the history and fashion lesson!

  • Oh I’ve got lots of unread post here! 😛
    The link you gave was very nice! I love the amber nail guard most~~
    Actually Qing Dynasty ladies do wear long nails on the 4th & 5th fingers. Sometimes as long as 2 inches. So nail guards are pretty useful.

    • LOL these concubines do nothing except wait for the emperor’s favours which is like once or twice a year after the initial heat is gone or maybe none at all. They only embroider,sing,play musical instruments,practise dancing and read books/poetry if they are well-educated. I can’t imagine living such a life!!!

      One thing about this emperor is that at least he’s educated in the classics -poetry and music.

  • They actually still have them as novelty items in China. I use to have a pair just for kicks (they were for a traditional dance my sister did but I nicked them for the heck of it). It gets really stuffy for your nails in the cylinder shaped ones and the ring like ones kept catching on everything.

  • What I’m curious though is the flower embroidery in their white scarf. The empress, Zhen Huan, Hua Fei all have flower embroidery with different number of flower. Majority of the concubines don’t have it.
    Does the flower embroidery signify the power the concubine wield in the palace or something?

  • actually, the nail guard is not originally an item of luxury to signify the lack of needing to work, although that dovetails nicely with the truth that it is an elite symbol and is a great cover (pun intended) for its hidden meaning. it was and is worn by the elite families of the Dragon clans ( white, green, red , and black) and the finger sheaths are a nod to dragon claws. a power symbol of these secret families.

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