古人真会玩系列之一:唐代裙幄宴 Ancient Chinese Pastimes 1: Tang dynasty Ladies’ Picnic

[CH/EN]

这春节一过,不知不觉又到了三月三日的上巳(si4)节。唐代的小姐姐们,今年想好到哪里出游了吗?

Chinese New Year is over. Spring has come. And the lovely ladies of the Tang dynasty are determined to make the most of this long awaited day.

唐朝人最喜欢在上巳节出门玩,而且根据传统,还要找个靠水的地方,欣赏春色。 这冬天闷在家里久了,怎样都要趁着大好春天出门透透气。

“What festival is this?” You, a 21st century time traveller, asks. It is the third day of the third month (of the lunar calendar), and it was a big deal for the ancient Chinese. Centuries ago, it was customary to undergo a ritual cleansing bath , but our Tang dynasty ladies no longer practiced public swimming. Rather, they put on their finest, packed their picnic boxes, and sought out a nice riverbank to make the most of the festival.

而小姐姐们拎着吃盒,穿上漂亮的衣裙,成群结伴,找个景色宜人的地方,准备在那儿野餐。可是,这大家闺秀,在大庭广众下吃吃喝喝的,怎么说都不太好看吧?这时,身上的长裙就发挥了用处—她们将裙子挂在竹竿或树枝上,就地搭成一个帷幕,就在帷幕内野餐。外头人一看,只见在风中飘逸的红色长裙,却看不见里头的人儿…这样即尽了兴,又添加几分神秘。

However, even the open-minded Tang dynasty folks considered it unseemly for highborn young ladies to picnic in public. So the ladies, not wanting to miss out on the fun, draped their skirts on poles and branches, effectively forming a makeshift screen. Then they would feast in privacy, safe from prying eyes. (On a side note, there’s a Tang dynasty mural of a group of men feasting in public while people gathered to watch…I suppose our ladies wouldn’t have appreciated being stared at while digging into their packed lunches!)

作画灵感x唐代点心:

据《开元天宝遗事》记载,“长安士女游春野步,遇名花则设席藉草,以红裙递相插挂,以为宴幄。其奢逸如此也”。 虽然典籍里写的是“红裙”,但我已将人物色调设定为暖色,为了突出人物,就将背景的裙子涂成冷色调。

We know of these activities thanks to a book “Tales from Kai-Yuan and Tian-Bao Regime”. (a.k.a a historical/novella/gossip column about the period spanning 713-756 A.D.) I have taken liberties with the colours of the skirts here, depicting them as blue-green instead of the red described in the book.

而从这短短的文字中,从“设席”、“宴幄”中便可知,这种户外活动必定少不了吃的。所以我就脑补了她们野餐的画面。那唐代人野餐吃什么呢?《开元天宝遗事》中没写清楚,但我想,她们应该会携带一些方便外带的食品,于是我就参考了新疆阿斯塔那古墓群出土的面饼。

So what did our ladies pack? The book gives no clue (apart from the fact that feasting was involved), so I’ve drawn some easy-to-pack baked goods, using some ancient pastry samples excavated from the Astana tombs in Xinjiang.

说起唐代的点心呢,和我们现代名媛们崇尚的法式下午茶不太一样, 黄油、砂糖这种东西太名贵,大部分人都吃不上。但唐朝吃货们发展出一套自己的方法,他们很喜欢吃烤饼和煎饼,有些上面撒有芝麻,有些里面包着馅料。而且根据出土的文物,这些面饼有些带着用模具印出样纹,有些这被扭成各式各样的形状,视觉上有点像德国的pretzels。(这里多加一个冷知识点:唐代人称一切面食食品为“饼”,所以我们现代认知中的面条、饺子、馒头、包子,统统称为“饼”)

Butter and refined sugar were expensive in the Tang dynasty. So the Tang dynasty folks had to improvise — and the result was an astonishing variety of roasted, steamed and deep-fried wheat-based pastry. (Now ‘pasty’ or ‘bing’, is a very generic term for anything made with wheat flour).

Some were stuffed with a variety of fillings, while others were topped with sesame seeds. And the Tang dynasty bakers took great care to make them aesthetically pleasing too. The excavated pastries from the Astana tombs come in various interesting forms, some twisted into pretzel-like shapes, and others pressed with decorative patterns.

当然,新疆离长安还有一段距离的,长安仕女们出游未必吃烤饼,若吃烤饼也未必和新疆的长得一模一样。这里就不那么讲究了。

Of course, there’s quite a distance between Xinjiang and Chang’an, so there may have been regional variations. And the Chang’an ladies did not necessary have pastries during their picnics. It is just imagination on my part.

唐代人也有吃水果的习惯。他们喜欢吃沾上蔗浆和醍醐(酥酪提炼出来的油)的樱桃,入口又甜又酸,(别问我怎么知道,白居易他老人家告诉我的),类似我们的草莓+cream的搭配。这里犯了一个小错误,就是樱桃成熟的季节是春末夏初,和仕女们春游时间不符。但我毕竟是个热带国家的现代人,这点小错就放过我吧。

The people of the Tang dynasty also loved fruits. They had a habit of dipping cherries into cane syrup and refined cream. As the poet Bai Juyi describes it, the end result is both sweet and sour. I’ve taken another artistic liberty here — cherries were only in season at the end of spring, and the ladies enjoying their early spring excursion would not have feasted on it. As a modern person who has no concept of seasonal fruits, (apart from the durian), I beg pardon for this mistake.

此外,唐代点心还有贵妃红、水晶龙凤糕、玉露团等等,光看名字就让人食欲大增。有些还流传到了现代,比如说,上过《舌尖上的中国》的贵妃饼。这款糕点据说传唐宫,但唐朝人吃的和现代版有多大出入,是否长成这个样子,就不得而知了。

The Tang dynasty folks also enjoyed a range of desserts with poetical names. Let me attempt to translate a few – “Scarlet Consort”, “Crystal Dragon and Phoenix Cake”, “Jade Dew Ball”. Here I’ve included the “Consort Pastry” (the white things with red dots) as featured on the series “A Bite of China”. It is said to have originated from the Tang court cuisine, but truth to be told, we have no idea if the pastries actually looked like this, or if they tasted the same as their modern counterpart.

如果现代吃货一个不小心穿越回去,应该会很想念现代的辣椒土豆番茄什么的,但他要是手上有点闲钱,大概也不会太失望吧!

So I guess Tang dynasty food culture is enough to satisfy the modern foodie, despite the lack of chillies, potatoes, tomatoes and whatnot. Provided, of course, you are financially able to splurge on these delicacies! #古人真会玩#裙幄宴#唐代风俗#历史#插画#AncientPastimes#xlnyeong

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s