Early Chinese Cosmetics

Over on the brewing blog, I'm primarily translating the sixth-century Chinese farm manual Qimin Yaoshu (齊民要術).  Besides recipes for wine, it also includes a lot of detail on farming, and some other topics.  One of them is cosmetics, buried in the chapter on safflower.

Safflower is an interesting plant because while it's grown today primarily for its seed oil, the flowers contain two dyes:  a yellow dye that leaches out with water, and a red dye only extractable after an alkaline soak, and then an acid bath.  Jia Sixie, the author of Qimin Yaoshu, was clearly aware of that, and his directions for processing safflower to produce rouge include that process.

Also included are a recipe for lipstick, pomade, hand cream, and face powder.  Green text is a later annotation whose provenance I have not been able to find yet, but which is probably medieval, and appears in every version of the text I have.  Most of the plant name interpretation is coming from The Annotated Qimin Yaoshu (齊民要術校釋) by Miao Qiyu.

種紅藍花及梔子第五十二 Chapter 52: Planting Safflower [Carmanthus tinctorius] and Cape Jasmine [Gardenia jasminoides]


燕支、香澤、面脂、手藥、紫粉、白粉附
Additionally: cosmetics, pomade, face creams, hand cream, purple powder, and white powder.

花地欲得良熟。二月末三月初種也。
The ground must be well-prepared.  At the end of the second month or the beginning of the third month, plant it.

種法:To Plant:

[not included because it doesn't seem that interesting, and I'm not enough of an expert in horticulture to provide a good translation]

殺花法:To Extract from the Flowers:


摘取即碓擣使熟,以水淘,布袋絞去黃汁;
Pick them, and then pound them well in a mortar, rinse with water, and wring out the yellow juice with a cloth bag.
更擣,以粟飯漿清而醋者淘之,又以布袋絞去汁,即收取染紅勿棄也。
Pound it again, and use clear, soured cooked grain broth to rinse it, and again wring out the juice with a cloth bag, collecting the red dye - do not discard it!
絞訖,著甕器中,以布蓋上,雞鳴更擣令均,於席上攤而曝乾,勝作餅。
After wringing, put it in a weng vessel, cover with it a cloth, and when the cock crows again pound it until it is even, and then spread it on a mat so that it dries, which is better than making cakes [because it is not easy to make cakes, so it’s better to store it loose].
作餅者,不得乾,令花浥鬱也。
If you do make cakes, do not dry it fully, leave it moist and thick.

作燕支法:To Make Cosmetics:


預燒落藜、藜、藋及蒿作灰,無者,即草灰亦得。
Burn Bassia scoparia, Chenopodium album, and Artemisia apiacea to ashes.  If you do not have them, you may also use grass ash.
以湯淋取清汁初汁純厚太釅,即殺花,不中用,唯可洗衣;
Soak [the ashes] in hot water, and drain off the clear liquid.  The first runnings are pure and thick, and are too strong, and if you use it to extract from the flowers, it will not strike the right balance, and may only used for washing clothes.
取第三度淋者,以用揉花,和,使好色也。揉花。
Take the third-degree soaking, and use it to knead the flowers, mix, and you will obtain a good color.  Knead the flowers.
十許遍,勢盡乃止。
[You may do this] perhaps ten times, and when [the color is] exhausted, stop.
布袋絞取淳汁,著瓷甕中。
Wring out the pure liquid with a cloth bag, and put it in a high-fired [stoneware-porcelain] urn.
取醋石榴兩三箇,擘取子,擣破,少著粟飯漿水極酸者和之,布絞取瀋,以和花汁。
Take two or three sour pomegranates [a different variety than sweet], break out and keep the seeds, break them by pounding, and mix them with a little soured cooked grain broth which is extremely sour.  Wring out the liquor, and join it with the juice from the flowers.
若無石榴者,以好醋和飯漿亦得用。若復無醋者,清飯漿極酸者,亦得空用之。
If you do not have pomegranates, you may also use good vinegar and [soured] cooked grain broth.  If you also do not have vinegar, clear cooked grain broth which has become extremely sour may also be used in its absence.
下白米粉,大如酸棗,粉多則白。
Add white grain powder [see below], as big as sour jujubes [1” or so], if you use a lot of powder, it will be white.
以淨竹箸不膩者,良久痛攪。
Take clean bamboo chopsticks without grease, and for a good while deeply stir it.
蓋冒至夜,瀉去上清汁,至淳處止,傾著帛練角袋子中懸之。
Cover until night.  Pour off the top clear liquid, and stop when it’s no longer clear.  Pour the remainder into a white silk corner bag and suspend it.
明日乾浥浥時,捻作小瓣,如半麻子,陰乾之則成矣。
The next day, when it is half dry, twist it in your fingers to make small seeds, half the size of hemp seed.  Dry these in the shade and you’re done.

合香澤法:To Mix Pomade:

The Shiming explains: “Peoples’ hair is often tired and worn-out; they use this to moisten it.”

好清酒以浸香:To Soak Fragrances in Good Clear Wine:

夏用冷酒,春秋溫酒令暖,冬則小熱。
In summer, use cold wine, in spring and autumn heat wine until warm, and in winter make it a little hot.
雞舌香、俗人以其似丁子,故為「丁子香」也。
Take Fragrant Chicken’s Tongue [Syzygium aromaticum, cloves] (the common people use similar nail-shaped seeds, which they also call “nail-shaped aromatics [cloves]”),
藿香、苜蓿、澤蘭香,凡四種,以新綿裹而浸之。
Agastache rugosa, “alfalfa” [but Miao Qiyu says that “this does not refer to the alfalfa in the bean family, but we don’t know precisely what plant this refers to.”], and Eupatorium japonicum [stems and leaves], and for each of the four, bind them in new floss and soak them.
夏一宿,春秋再宿,冬三宿。
In summer, pass one night, in spring and autumn, two, in winter, three.
用胡麻油兩分,豬脂一分,內銅鐺中,即以浸香酒和之,煎數沸後,便緩火微煎,然後下所浸香煎。
Take two parts sesame oil, one part lard, and in a copper kettle mix it with the fragrance-soaked wine, bring to a few boils [i.e., not to a rolling boil] and then lower the fire to a bare simmer, and then take [the bundles of herbs?] out.
緩火至暮,水盡沸定,乃熟。
Keep it warm over the fire until sunset, and when the water is exhausted and the boiling stops, it’s done.
以火頭內澤中作聲者,水未盡;有煙出,無聲者,水盡也。
You can use the sound of the liquid in the fire: if it makes a sound, the water is not exhausted.  If there is smoke, and no sound, the water is exhausted.
澤欲熟時,下少許青蒿以發色。
When the Eupatorium [possibly just “the mixture”] is about cooked, add a little blue-green wormwood [Artemisia carvifolia?] to give it some color.
以綿幕鐺觜、瓶口,瀉著瓶中。
Cover the spout of the kettle and the mouth of a bottle with floss, and pour it into the bottle.

合面脂法:To Mix Face Cream:

用牛髓。牛髓少者,用牛脂和之。
Use beef [ox, water buffalo] marrow.  If you do not have much marrow, you may mix beef tallow with it.
若無髓,空用脂亦得也。
If you do not have any marrow, you may use tallow completely in its stead.
溫酒浸丁香、藿香二種。
Soak both cloves and Agastache rugosa in warmed wine.
浸法如煎澤方。煎法一同合澤,亦著青蒿以發色。
Soak them like simmering Eupatorium [same ambiguity as above, could refer to pomade entirely].  Simmer them together, and then add blue-green wormwood [again, possibly Artemisia carvifolia] for color.
綿濾著瓷、漆盞中令凝。
Strain it through floss into high-fired stoneware or porcelain, and let it congeal in shallow lacquer wine cups.
若作脣脂者,以熟朱和之,青油裹之。
If you are making lip ointment, take cooked vermilion and mix it in [note to readers: vermilion contains mercury, and is toxic].  Coat it in blue-green oil [Triadica sebifera?].
其冒霜雪遠行者,常齧蒜令破,以揩脣,既不劈裂,又令辟惡。
If it [you?] will contend with frost and snow [figuratively, adversity in general] on a long journey, [subject missing] often eroded by sand-leeks [sic] to the point of breaking, then use it to wipe the lips, and thereby they will not split, and will cause them to avoid evils.
小兒面患皴者,夜燒梨令熟,以糠湯洗面訖,以煖梨汁塗之,令不皴。
If children suffer from chapped faces, roast pears until they are cooked, and use hot bran broth to wash their faces.  When done, take the warm pear juice and smear it, so that they are not chapped.
赤蓬染布,嚼以塗面,亦不皴也。
Take a red tumbleweed [plant unknown, perhaps Chrisanthemum coronarium?]-dyed cloth [used to dye cloth?], chew it and smear it on their faces, and they will also not be chapped.

合手藥法:To Mix Hand Medicine:

取豬𦚞一具,摘去其脂。
Take the fat from between the kidneys [according to Bencao Gangmu.  Possibly just “kidney fat.”] of one pig, pick off its fat.
合蒿葉於好酒中痛挼,使汁甚滑。
Join wormwood leaves with good wine and thoroughly roll it between your hands so that the juice is very slippery
白桃人二七枚,去黃皮,研碎,酒解,取其汁。
Take the meat [possibly kernels, but the annotation thinks it’s the flesh] from twenty-seven white [possibly “common”] peaches, remove the yellow skin, grind them down, dissolve in wine, and take the liquid.
以綿裹丁香、藿香、甘松香、橘核十顆,打碎。
Take floss-wrapped cloves, Agastache rugosa, spikenard [Nardostachys jatamansi], ten sourpeel tangerine [Citrus reticulata] seeds, broken.
著𦚞汁中,仍浸置勿出,瓷瓶貯之。
Add these to the kidney fat, and soak it without taking them out, and put it into a high-fired stoneware / porcelain bottle.
夜煮細糠湯淨洗面,拭乾,以藥塗之,令手軟滑,冬不皴。
At night, boil fine bran broth and cleanly wash your face [the surface of your hands?], wipe it dry, and smear the medicine on it, and it will make your hands soft and smooth, and they will not chap in winter.

作紫粉法:To Make Purple Powder:

用白米英粉三分,胡粉一分,不著胡粉,不著人面。
Use three parts very pure white starch [see below], and one part of barbarian powder [white lead; the Shiming explains: “barbarian powder, barbarian, or paste all refer to that which is mixed with fat and smeared on faces.”] if you do not use barbarian powder, don’t put it [the lead?  The final product?] on faces.
和合均調。
Mix them together well.
取落葵子熟蒸,生布絞汁,和粉,日曝令乾。
Take Malabar spinach [Basella alba, presumably a red cultivar in this context] seeds and steam them until cooked, and wring them out in a new cloth.  Mix with the powder, and let air in the sun until dry.
若色淺者,更蒸取汁,重染如前法。
If the color is light, just steam and take more juice, again dyeing as before.

作米粉法:To Make Grain Powder:

梁米第一,粟米第二。
[Glutinous?] foxtail millet is best, [non-glutinous?] foxtail millet is second.
必用一色純米,勿使有雜白。
You must use one-colored pure grain, you must not use mixed-white grain.
使甚細,簡去碎者。
Make it fine, simply remove the fragments.
各自純作,莫雜餘種。
Every batch must be pure, do not mix batches with leftovers.
其雜米、糯米、小麥、黍米、穄米作者,不得好也。
If you make this with mixed grains, glutinous rice, wheat, glutinous proso millet, or non-glutinous proso millet, you will not get good results.
於木槽中下水,腳踏十遍,淨淘,水清乃止。
Add water to a wooden trough, and tread it ten times with your feet.  Wash it clean, and stop when the water is clear.
大甕中多著冷水以浸米,春秋則一月,夏則二十日,冬則六十日,唯多日佳。
In a big weng, add a lot of cold water to soak the grain, in spring and autumn, for one month, in the summer for twenty days, in the winter for sixty days, only more days are good.
不須易水,臭爛乃佳。
It doesn’t have to be good water, stinky, bad water is also fine.
日若淺者,粉不滑美。
If you do not wait long enough, the powder will not be silky and good.
日滿,更汲新水,就甕中沃之,以酒杷攪,淘去醋氣,多與遍數,氣盡乃止。
After soaking, draw new water [possibly from a well], and soak the grain in the weng.  Agitate it with a brewing stick, rinse out the soured spirits, several times, and when it’s gone, stop.
稍稍出著一砂盆中熟研,以水沃,攪之。
Slightly pour it out into a sand pan and grind it well, soak it in water, and agitate it.
接取白汁,絹袋濾,著別甕中。
Ladle out the white liquid, strain it through a heavy plain-weave silk bag, and put it in a different weng.
麤沈者更研,水沃,接取如初。
Take the coarse sunken matter, grind it again, soak it, and again draw out the liquid as before.
研盡,以杷子就甕中良久痛抨,然後澄之。
When you can no longer grind it, take a stick and attack the inside of the weng for a good long time, and it will clarify.
接去清水,貯出淳汁,著大盆中,以杖一向攪——勿左右迴轉——三百餘匝,停置,蓋瓮,勿令鹿污。
Draw out the clear water, and retain the pure liquid.  Add it to a big basin, and use a rod to agitate it — do not stir left to right, do it in a circle — three hundred or more circuits, stop, cover the weng, and don’t allow it to get dirty.
良久,清澄,以杓徐徐接去清,以三重布帖粉上,以粟糠著布上,糠上安灰;
After a while, it will be clear.  Use a ladle to gently draw off the liquid, and then put three layers of cloth grazing the top of the powder, put foxtail millet bran on top of the cloth, and on top of the bran put ashes.
灰濕,更以乾者易之,灰不復濕乃止。
When the ashes are soaked, add more dry ashes, and when they do not become wet, stop.
然後削去四畔麤白無光潤者,別收之,以供麤用。
Then, pare off four sides of the coarse, white, non-shiny powder, but do not keep it, use it as coarse matter.
麤粉,米皮所成,故無光潤。
Coarse powder is from the bran of the grain, so it’s not shiny.
其中心圓如缽形,酷似鴨子白光潤者,名曰「粉英」。
In the middle there is a round spot like the shape of an alms-bowl, which strongly resembles the shiny whiteness of a duck egg.  This is called “very pure white starch.”
英粉,米心所成,是以光潤也。
Very pure white starch is from the heart of the grain, so it is shiny.
無風塵好日時,舒布於床上,刀削粉英如梳,曝之,乃至粉乾。
Let it be without wind or dirt for a good number of days, and then stretch cloth over a bed, and pare off the very pure white starch like you’re combing it, dry it, and then make it into dry powder.
將住反手痛挼勿住。
Thoroughly rumple it with your hands and feet [pronunciation note] without stopping.
痛挼則滑美,不挼則澀惡。
If you thoroughly rumple it, it will be smooth and good, if you do not, it will be coarse and bad.
擬人客作餅,乃作香粉以供妝摩身體。
Prepare people to make cakes, and then  make fragrant powder which can be rubbed on bodies.

作香粉法:To Make Fragrant Powder:


唯多著丁香於粉合中,自然芬馥。
Only by mixing a lot of cloves with powder does this get a sweet fragrance.
〈亦有擣香末絹篩和粉者,亦有水浸香以香汁溲粉者,皆損色,又費香,不如全著合中也。
There is pounded fragrance powder sifted through heavy plain-weave silk mixed with powder, and there is water-soaked fragrance where the powder is soaked with the liquor.  Both harm the color, and waste the fragrance, and are not as good as mixing whole.

I have it on good authority that someone out there may be interested in recreating some of these recipes...

Creative Commons License


Comments

Popular Posts