Melon cap making process
For the material of the melon hat, black yarn, knotted brown or lacquered yarn is often used in summer and autumn, and blue and black silk, velvet or felt is mostly used in spring and winter. The color is mostly black or cyan, with red lining, and brocade piping for delicate ones. White can also be used for funerals. The top of the cap is equipped with a lumpy “knot” made of red velvet silk. The size of the knot also changes with fashion. At one time, cherry-like knots were admired, but big knots became popular. In the late Ming Dynasty, corals, crystal beads, and gems were also used. The knots attached to the top of the hat are called “hat beads”. The knots are as small as bean grains and heavy blue. When wearing, the hat is inclined to the front and half over the forehead. At the time of Xuantong, the hat brim had overlapped as many as seven or eight.
In the center of the cap, a square white jade or gemstone is used as a “cap standard” (or “cap front”) to distinguish the front and back, and it is also a decoration. The quality of the hat depends on the economic conditions and social status of the person wearing the hat. Nobles or wealthy people can use pearls, beautiful jade, agate, jade, coral, cat’s eye and other precious gemstones to make hats, and even use Bixia jewelry to show off their wealth and illustrious ones. Ordinary people can also use burning baskets, feeders (glass), small silver pieces, etc. as the cap. At that time, young people, especially those of the Eight Banners, for the sake of beauty, they often had to hang red tassels made of red silk rope on their cap bumps, called “red mans”.