Evolution of Chinese Clothing and Cheongsam
Chinese clothing has approximately 5,000 years of history behind it, but regrettably I am only able to cover 2,500 years in this fashion timeline. I began with the Han dynasty as the term <i>hanfu</i> (Chinese clothing) was coined in that period. Please bear in mind that this is only a generalized timeline of Chinese clothing primarily featuring aristocratic and upper-class ethnic Han Chinese women (the exceptions are Fig. 8 (dancer) and Fig. 11 (maid, due to the fact I couldn’t find many paintings in this period)).
My resources are mainly the books: 5,000 years of Chinese Costume, China Chic: East Meets West, and Changing Clothes in China: Fashion, History, Nation. 5,000 years of Chinese Costume is an invaluable resource (though sadly currently out of print), I would highly recommend this book if you can get your hands on it.
“In the Han Dynasty, as of old, the one-piece garment remained the formal dress for women. However, it was somewhat different from that of the Warring States Period, in that it had an increased number of curves in the front and broadened lower hems. Close-fitting at the waist, it was always tied with a silk girdle.” (5,000 years of Chinese Costume, pg. 32)
Wei and Jin dynasties:
“On the whole, the costumes of the Wei and Jin period still followed the patterns of Qin and Han.” (5,000 years of Chinese Costume, pg. 54)
“From the costumes worn by the benefactors in the Dunhuang murals and the costumes of the pottery figurines unearthed in Louyang, it can be seen that women’s costumes in the period of Wei and Jin were generally large and loose. The upper garment opened at the front and was tied at the waist. The sleeves were broad and fringed at the cuffs with decorative borders of a different colour. The skirt had spaced coloured stripes and was tied with a white silk band at the waist. There was also an apron between the upper garment and skirt for the purpose of fastening the waist. Apart from wearing a multi-coloured skirt, women also wore other kinds such as the crimson gauze-covered skirt, the red-blue striped gauze double skirt, and the barrel-shaped red gauze skirt. Many of these styles are mentioned in historical records.” (5,000 years of Chinese Costume, pg. 65)
Southern and Northern Dynasties:
“During the Wei, Jin and the Southern and Northern Dynasties, though men no longer wore the traditional one-piece garment, some women continued to do so. However, the style was quite different from that seen in the Han Dynasty. Typically the women’s dress was decorated with xian and shao. The latter refers to pieces of silk cloth sewn onto the lower hem of the dress, which were wide at the top and narrow at the bottom, so that triangles were formed overlapping each other. Xian refers to some relatively long ribbons which extended from the short-cut skirt. While the wearer was walking, these lengthy ribbons made the sharp corners n the lower hem wave like a flying swallow, hence the Chinese phrase ‘beautiful ribbons and flying swallowtail’.” (5,000 years of Chinese Costume, pg. 62)
“During the Southern and Northern Dynasties, costumes underwent further changes in style. The long flying ribbons were no longer seen and the swallowtailed corners became enlarged. As a result the flying ribbons and swallowtailed corners were combined into one.” (5,000 years of Chinese Costume, pg. 62)
“During the period of the Sui and early Tang, a short jacket with tight sleeves was worn in conjunction with a tight long skirt whose waist was fastened almost to the armpits with a silk ribbon. In the ensuing century, the style of this costume remained basically the same, except for some minor changes such as letting out the jacket and/or its sleeves.” (5,000 years of Chinese Costume, pg. 88)
“The Tang Dynasty was the most prosperous period in China’s feudal society. Changan (now Xian, Shananxi Province), the capital, was the political, economic and cultural centre of the nation. […] Residents in Changan included people of such nationalities as Huihe (Uygur,) Tubo (Tibetan), and Nanzhao (Yi), and even Japanese, Xinluo (Korean), Persian and Arabian. Meanwhile, people frequently travelled to and fro between countries like Vietnam, India and the East Roman Empire and Changan, thus spreading Chinese culture to other parts of the world.” (5,000 years of Chinese Costume, pg. 76)
“…all the national minorities and foreign envoys who thronged the streets of Changan also contributed something of their own culture to the Tang. Consequently, paintings, carvings, music and dances of the Tang absorbed something of foreign skills and styles. The Tang government adopted the policy of taking in every exotic form whether or hats or clothing, so that Tang costumes became increasingly picturesque and beautiful.” (5,000 years of Chinese Costume, pg. 88)
“Women of the Tang Dynasty paid particular attention to facial appearance, and the application of powder or even rouge was common practice. Some women’s foreheads were painted dark yellow and the dai (a kind of dark blue pigment) was used to paint their eyebrows into different shapes that were called dai mei (painted eyebrows) in general.” (5,000 years of Chinese Costume, pg. 89)
“In the years of Tianbao during Emperor Xuanzong’s reign, women used to wear men’s costumes. This was not only a fashion among commoners, but also for a time it spread to the imperial court and became customary for women of high birth.” (5,000 years of Chinese Costume, pg. 89)
“The hairstyle of the women of the Song Dynasty still followed the fashion of the later period of the Tang Dynasty, the high bun being the favoured style. Women’s buns were often more than a foot in height.” (5,000 years of Chinese Costume, pg. 107)
“Women’s upper garments consisted mainly of coat, blouse, loose-sleeved dress, over-dress, short-sleeved jacket and vest. The lower garment was mostly a skirt.” (5,000 years of Chinese Costume, pg. 107)
“Women in the Song Dynasty seldom wore boots, since binding the feet had become fashionable.” (5,000 years of Chinese Costume, pg. 107)
“Although historians do not know exactly how or why foot binding began, it was apparently initially associated with dancers at the imperial court and professional female entertainers in the capital. During the Song dynasty (960-1279) the practice spread from the palace and entertainment quarters into the homes of the elite. ‘By the thirteenth century, archeological evidence shows clearly that foot-binding was practiced among the daughters and wives of officials,’ reports Patricia Buckley Ebrey […] Over the course of the next few centuries foot binding became increasingly common among gentry families, and the practice eventually penetrated the mass of the Chinese people.” (Chinese Chic: East Meets West, pg. 37-38)
“Han women continued to wear the jacket and skirt. However, the choice of darker shades and buttoning on the left showed Mongolian influence.” (5,000 years of Chinese Costume, pg. 131)
“After the Mongols settled down in the Central Plains, Mongolian customs and costumes also had their influence on those of the Han people. While remaining the main costume for Han women, the jacket and skirt had deviated greatly in style from those of the Tang and Song periods. Tight-fitting garments gave way to big, loose ones; and collar, sleeves and skirt became straight. In addition, lighter more serene colours gained preference.” (5,000 years of Chinese Costume, pg. 142)
“The clothing for women in the Ming Dynasty consisted mainly of gowns, coats, rosy capes, over-dresses with or without sleeves, and skirts. These styles were imitations of ones first seen in the Tang and Song Dynasties. However, the openings were on the right-hand side, according to the Han Dynasty convention.” ((5,000 years of Chinese Costume, pg. 147)
“The formal dress for commoners could only be made of coarse purple cloth, and no gold embroidery was allowed. Gowns could only in such light colours as purple, green and pink; and in no case should crimson, reddish blue or yellow be used. These regulations were observed for over a decade, and it was not until the 14th year of Hong Wu that minor changes were made.” (5,000 years of Chinese Costume, pg. 147)
When China fell under Manchurian rule, Chinese men were forced to adopt Manchurian customs. As a sign of submission, the new government made a decree that men must shave their head and wear the Manchurian queue or lose their heads. Many choose the latter.
On the other hand, Chinese women were not pressured to adopt Manchurian clothing and fashions. “Women, in general, wore skirts as their lower garments, and red skirts were for women of position. At first, there were still the “phoenix-tail” skirt and the “moonlight” skirt and others from the Ming tradition. However the styles evolved with the passage of time: some skirts were adorned with ribbons that floated in the air when one walked; some had little bells fastened under them: others had their lower edge embroidered with wavy designs. As the dynasty drew to an end, the wearing of trousers became the fashion among commoner women. There were trousers with full crotches and over trousers, both made of silk embroidered with patters.” (5,000 years of Chinese Costume, pg. 173)
The Manchurians attempted several times to eradicate the practice of foot-binding, but were largely unsuccessful. Manchurian women admired the gait of bound women but were effectively banned from practicing food-binding. Hence, a “flower pot shoe” later came into creation and it allowed its wearer the same unsteady gait but without any need for foot-binding.
Women traditionally bound their breasts in the Ming and Qing dynasties with tight fitting vests and continued to do so in the early 20th century.
“The vests were called xiaomajia ‘little vest’ or xiaoshan ‘little shirt” “used by Chinese women as underclothing for the upper part of the body.” (Changing Clothes in China: Fashion, History, Nation: Finnane pg 162) “Doudu [is] a sort of apron for the upper body […] in former times the doudu had been worn by everyone, old and young, male and female. The young wore red, the middle-aged wore white or grey-green, the elderly wore black. A little pocket sewn into the top was used by adults to secrete them money and by children their sweets. When a girl got engaged, she would show off her embroidery skills by sending an elaborately worked doudu to her fiancé, decorated with bats for good forturne and pomegranates, symbolizing many sons.” (Changing Clothes in China: Fashion, History, Nation: Finnane pg 162)
A ban on bound breasts began in 1927, in which the government started advocating for the “Natural Breast Movement”. Despite this, bound breasts still widely continued into the 1930s. The government also banned earrings as it fell under the criteria of deforming the natural body. The 1930s also saw the introduction of the western/French bra come to Shanghai.
“The little vest was designed to constrain the breasts and streamline the body. Such a garment was necessary to look comme il faut around 1908, when (as J. Dyer Ball observed): ‘fashion decreed that jackets should fit tight, though not yielding to the contours of the figure, except in the slightest degree, as such an exposure of the body would be considered immodest.’ It became necessary again in the mid-twenties, when the jacket-blouse—a garment cut on rounded lines – began to give way to the qipao. At this stage, darts were not used to tailor the bodice or upper part of the qipao, nor would they be till the mid-fifties. The most that could be done by way of further fitting the qipao to the bosom was to stretch the material at the right places through ironing. Under these circumstances, breast-binding must have made the tailor’s task easier.” (Finnane 163, Changing Clothes in China: Fashion, History, Nation)
Successful eradication of bound feet would not come until the 1949 when the People’s Republic of China came into power.
Under the People’s Republic of China, very few mainland women wore the cheongsam, save for ceremonial attire. Clothing became de-sexualized for mainlanders.
It was the flip side in Hong Kong, as the cheongsam continued its function as everyday wear which lasted until the late 1960s. The cheongsam in the 1950s and 1960s became even tighter fitting to further accentuate feminine curves. Western clothing became the default after the late 1960s, though the cheongsam continued to survive as uniforms for students (who donned a looser and androgynous version), waitresses, brides, and beauty contestants.
Designers today are creating new forms of the qipao/cheongsam. The mermaid tail appears to be a current popular trend.
I was sitting on the computer last night trying to be productive and actually write something. My first sentence included the character listening to a voice through an intercom and my first thought was, “What kind of voice is it?”
So, naturally, I found myself googling the different ways to describe a voice. I present to you my findings! I hope you all find it useful.
- adenoidal (adj): if someone’s voice is adenoidal, some of the sound seems to come through their nose
- appealing (adj): an appealing look/voice shows that you want help, approval, or agreement
- breathy (adj): with loud breathing noises
- brittle (adj): if you speak in a brittle voice, you sound as if you are about to cry
- croaky (adj): if someone’s voice sounds croaky, they speak in a low, rough voice that sounds as if they have a sore throat
- dead (adj): if someone’s eyes or voice are dead, they feel or show no emotion
- disembodied (adj): a disembodied voice comes from someone who you cannot see
- flat (adj): spoken in a voice that does not go up and down; this word is often used for describing the speech of people from a particular region
And I just needed to share it with all of you.
It’s the Speech Accent Archive, and any accent you can possibly imagine, you’re like to find it there. It’s an amazing resource for myself as point of reference and I’m sure a great load of you would appreciate it as well.
Along with recordings, it provides the phonetics right alongside the paragraph recording. Each one is the same so you can really pick at the small slips and rolls of the speech. There are people from every region you could think of, both men and women, as well as mixed age groups.
We have more Gods and Goddesses than you can shake a stick at.
Our Mythology Encyclopedia features over 3,700 weird and wonderful Supreme Beings, Demons, Spirits and Fabulous Beasts from all over the world. Explore ancient legends and folklore, and discover Gods of everything from Fertility to Fluff with Godchecker…
- AFRICAN GODS
- AUSTRALIAN GODS
- AZTEC GODS
- CARIBBEAN GODS
- CELTIC GODS
- CHINESE GODS
- EGYPTIAN GODS
- FINNISH GODS
- GREEK GODS
- INCAN GODS
- INDIAN GODS
- JAPANESE GODS
- MAYAN GODS
- MESOPOTAMIAN GODS
- MIDDLE-EASTERN GODS
- NATIVE AMERICAN GODS
- NORSE GODS
- OCEANIC GODS
- ROMAN GODS
- SLAVIC and BALTIC GODS
- SOUTH AMERICAN GODS
- SOUTH-EAST ASIAN
- TIBETAN GODS
EL DORADO GODS
Right?! N-no…? Oh… I’ll leave now. I’m sorry. :I
Cinnamon and Honey
Drug companies won’t like this one getting around. Facts on Honey and Cinnamon: ~Frisky
It is found that a mix of honey and Cinnamon cures most diseases. Honey is produced in most of the countries of the world. Scientists of today also note honey as very effective medicine for all kinds of diseases. Honey can be used without side effects which is also a plus.
Today’s science says that even though honey is sweet, when it is taken in the right dosage as a medicine, it does not harm even diabetic patients. Researched by western scientists:
HEART DISEASES: Make a paste of honey and cinnamon powder, put it on toast instead of jelly and jam and eat it regularly for breakfast. It reduces the cholesterol and could potentially save one from heart attack. Also, even if you have already had an attack studies show you could be kept miles away from the next attack. Regular use of cinnamon honey strengthens the heart beat. In America and Canada, various nursing homes have treated patients successfully and have found that as one ages the arteries and veins lose their flexibility and get clogged; honey and cinnamon revitalize the arteries and the veins.
ARTHRITIS: Arthritis patients can benefit by taking one cup of hot water with two tablespoons of honey and one small teaspoon of cinnamon powder. When taken daily even chronic arthritis can be cured. In a recent research conducted at the Copenhagen University, it was found that when the doctors treated their patients with a mixture of one tablespoon Honey and half teaspoon Cinnamon powder before breakfast, they found that within a week (out of the 200 people so treated) practically 73 patients were totally relieved of pain — and within a month, most all the patients who could not walk or move around because of arthritis now started walking without pain.
BLADDER INFECTIONS: Take two tablespoons of cinnamon powder and one teaspoon of honey in a glass of lukewarm water and drink it. It destroys the germs in the bladder….who knew?
CHOLESTEROL: Two tablespoons of honey and three teaspoons of Cinnamon Powder mixed in 16 ounces of tea water given to a cholesterol patient was found to reduce the level of cholesterol in the blood by 10 percent within two hours. As mentioned for arthritic patients, when taken three times a day, any chronic cholesterolcould be cured. According to information received in the said Journal, pure honey taken with food daily relieves complaints of cholesterol.
COLDS: Those suffering from common or severe colds should take one tablespoon lukewarm honey with 1/4 spoon cinnamon powder daily for three days. This process will cure most chronic cough, cold, and, clear the sinuses, and it’s delicious too!
UPSET STOMACH: Honey taken with cinnamon powder cures stomach ache and also is said to clear stomach ulcers from its root.
GAS: According to the studies done in India and Japan, it is revealed that when Honey is taken with cinnamon powder the stomach is relieved of gas.
IMMUNE SYSTEM: Daily use of honey and cinnamon powder strengthens the immune system and protects the body from bacterial and viral attacks. Scientists have found that honey has various vitamins and iron in large amounts. Constant use of Honey strengthens the white blood corpuscles (where DNA is contained) to fight bacterial and viral diseases.
INDIGESTION: Cinnamon powder sprinkled on two tablespoons of honey taken before food is eaten relieves acidity and digests the heaviest of meals
INFLUENZA: A scientist in Spain has proved that honey contains a natural ‘Ingredient’ which kills the influenza germs and saves the patient from flu.
LONGEVITY: Tea made with honey and cinnamon powder, when taken regularly, arrests the ravages of old age. Use four teaspoons of honey, one teaspoon of cinnamon powder, and three cups of boiling water to make a tea. Drink 1/4 cup, three to four times a day. It keeps the skin fresh and soft and arrests old age. Life spans increase and even a 100 year old will start performing the chores of a 20-year-old.
RASPY OR SORE THROAT: When throat has a tickle or is raspy, take one tablespoon of honey and sip until gone. Repeat every three hours until throat is without symptoms.
PIMPLES: Three tablespoons of honey and one teaspoon of cinnamon powder paste. Apply this paste on the pimples before sleeping and wash it off the next morning with warm water. When done daily for two weeks, it removes all pimples from the root.
SKIN INFECTIONS:Applying honey and cinnamon powder in equal parts on the affected parts cures eczema, ringworm and all types of skin Infections.
WEIGHT LOSS:Daily in the morning one half hour before
breakfast and on an empty stomach, and at night before sleeping, drink honey and cinnamon powder boiled in one cup of water. When taken regularly, it reduces the weight of even the most obese person. Also, drinking this mixture regularly does not allow the fat to accumulate in the body even though the person may eat a high calorie diet.
CANCER: Recent research in Japan and Australia has revealed that advanced cancer of the stomach and bones have been cured successfully. Patients suffering from these kinds of cancer should daily take one tablespoon of honey with one teaspoon of cinnamon powder three times a day for one month.
FATIGUE: Recent studies have shown that the sugar content of honey is more helpful rather than being detrimental to the strength of the body. Senior citizens who take honey and cinnamon powder in equal parts are more alert and flexible. Dr. Milton, who has done research, says that a half tablespoon of honey taken in a glass of water and sprinkled with cinnamon powder, even when the vitality of the body starts to decrease, when taken daily after brushing and in the afternoon at about 3:00 P.M., the vitality of the body increases within a week.
BAD BREATH: People of South America, gargle with one teaspoon of honey and cinnamon powder mixed in hot water first thing in the morning so their breath stays fresh throughout the day.
HEARING LOSS: Daily morning and night honey and cinnamon powder, taken in equal parts restores hearing. Remember when we were kids? We had toast with real butter and cinnamon sprinkled on it!
- a young character
- a character who lost someone important
- a flirtatious character
- a villain (2) (3) (4)
- a character based on yourself
- a hit man or mercenary
- an indifferent character
- a bitchy character
- a gay character
- a dancer
- a vampire
- a pansexual character
- a character on the police force
- a drunk character
- a manipulative character
- a friends with benefits relationship
- a natural born leader (2)
- a nice character
- a british character
- a character with a baby
- an assassin
- a character with night terrors
- a rich character
- a witty character
So, there was an anon who asked what I thought of Hitori Kakurenbo earlier today. While I’m still waiting to find out if they meant the movie or the game, I realized some people might not even know what the game is. It is, hands down, the creepiest shit I’ve ever heard of.
Did you ever play the game Bloody Mary, where you stand in front of the mirror in the dark and say “Bloody Mary” three times? Hitori Kakurenbo is Japan’s more horrifying version.
Here’s how you play. If you die, it’s not my fault.
- A stuffed animal that has both arms and legs
- Fingernail clippings (yours)
- A knife, shard of glass, or some sharp instrument
- A needle with a long piece of red thread
- A cup of salt water or Japanese sake
- A bathtub
- Someplace to hide
- A prepared will, because you’re going to die
First, name your stuffed animal. Let’s call our hypothetical teddy bear “Mister Squish”. Cut open Mister Squish and remove all of his stuffing. Replace it with the rice and your fingernail clippings. Make sure he is stuffed up good then sew him back up. Use the needle and red thread. It’s important that you use a long piece of thread so you can wrap the excess around his fuzzy, adorable body like some sort of furry bondage.
At 3am, take Mister Squish into your bathroom. Fill the tub with water. Hold Mister Squish in both hands and say out loud “For the first game, I’m (your name here) going to be it.” Say this three times then drop Mister Squish in the water.
Now, run around your house, turning off all the lights as you go. All of em, even that Spongebob Squarepants nightlight you have that you think I don’t know about but I do. You can keep your TV on but only if it’s tuned to a static-filled station. If you’re really a fan of The Ring, now is your chance to die just like in the movie!
Got all the lights off? Good. Close your eyes and count to ten. When you’re finished, open your eyes and grab the knife (or whatever sharp instrument you picked) and go back to the bathroom. Out loud, announce “I found Mister Squish!” Grab your soggy teddy and stab the shit out of him with the knife/scissors/glass/etc.
Congratulations! You won that round.
Note: The word for “it” in Japanese hide & seek or tag is “oni” - which means “devil”. This makes the next part of the game all the more terrifying.
Next, say “Now Mister Squish is it.” (AKA “Now Mister Squish is the Devil.”) Leave the still-impaled (this is very important) bear in the bathroom, either in the water or on the floor. Quickly (the instructions specifically say quickly) run out of the room. “Hide Quietly.” (Again, the instructions specify ‘quietly’.) Wherever you hide (closets are a good recommendation), make sure you have your glass of salt water or sake with you. Seriously. Don’t forget this. Just don’t.
Let’s say you pull an R Kelly and you’re hiding in the closet. (Dare I say you are “trapped” in the closet?) Stay there, listening and waiting. For what, you ask? All sorts of crazy shit, apparently. People have reported sounds (footsteps, voices and things being moved), horrible smells, changes in temperature, and having the TV suddenly switch off or the volume change dramatically. Some reported the sensation of being touched or pulled on, others said that their household pets freaked out (cowered or cried out). Whatever happens, stay hidden for as long as you can or until sunrise.
Ready for this shit to be over with? The ending ritual is extremely important. You can’t just hop out of the closet at sunrise and announce that you’ve won. Let’s say it’s still dark, something has freaked you out and you want to end the game. Take as much salt water (or sake) in your mouth as you can, holding it there while you return to the bathroom. Don’t assume Mister Squish will be where you left him. There have been people who find either him or the knife moved or missing entirely. Keep searching until you find Mister Squish. And, contrary to what guys usually say, DON’T SWALLOW! Hold that salty water in your mouth until you get that bear.
Once you find Mister Squish, spit the salt water (sake) all over him and tell him three times, “I won!”
That almost always ends the game… but you can never be too sure. As a final precaution, it is imperative you burn the stuffed animal you used. Even though the game is over, people have posted that they’ve become ill, gotten into some kind of accident, or continued to feel the presence of someone or something.
Oh, and another note of warning - DO NOT PLAY WHILE SOMEONE ELSE IS IN THE HOUSE. There is the possibility that they will be “found” instead of you. And something terrible will happen to them. You must be alone in the house when you play.
So there you go. If you want to die tonight, here is a delightful game just for you. Thanks, Japan!
In all types of writing (fiction, non-fiction, stories, games, songs, etc…) it is important to build a realm (real or imaginary) that envelops the reader and draws them into a new reality. In addition, it’s vital that the world intensifies meaning and conflict and reflects the theme of your writing.
How to do this? Here are some creative writing exercises designed to bring up the emotions and feelings of places that hold meaning for you. Then you can use what you discover to fictionalize and construct a few landscapes with conflict and secrets.
List out places from your life that inspired you. Choose one and write about it.
- Write about a place in your childhood where you loved to go. What did it mean to you? Why did you love it? What did you get to do there? How did that make you feel?
- Writing in 1st person narrative, describe and write about a place you love to go. Write about a place you hate to go. Write about a place where you feel uncomfortable. Now write about a place you dreamed. Write about a place you go in your imagination.
- Take the settings from #3 and list the objects you find. What else do you see? Now create some fictional objects. What can/do they mean? What subtext can they add?
- Write about a landscape that is in conflict with the people who live there. How does it change their behavior?
- Write about a neighborhood. Who lives there? What secrets are held within?
Warmed up? Okay, then lets get to it. Whatever you are writing, use these next questions to guide you as you discover your world. These writing prompts are a jumping off point to help uncover details and see beneath the surface of your world.
Go to your world.
Is it real or fictional or both? Physical or spiritual or both?
Where and when is this world? Another time? Another place? Another planet?
Is this world in another dimension? Is there magic here?
What are the rules of physics here? How do you move about in this world?
Why are you here? Why this place in particular?
What sort of terrain does this world have? Is it dangerous? Safe?
What is the weather like?
How does the terrain and weather affect who lives here?
Does the terrain and weather reflect/emphasize anything about the people here?
What does the physical landscape uncover and reveal about what is beneath the surface?
How does the physical landscape affect the behavior of the people who live here?
Who lives here?
List how people make a living.
Is there conflict in work choice or lack thereof?
Are there haves and have-nots?
Are there class disputes?
What is the social landscape?
Are there cultural disputes? Are these disputes obvious? Subtle? To the boiling point?
What are the values held? Are there opposing moral values? Who has them?
What is the religion? What is an opposite or opposing religion? Branches of religions?
Is there a choice and religious freedom?
Is there a sense of right and wrong?
Are there rituals in this world? What are they for? What do they mean?
Do they have meaning beyond the obvious?
Who is idolized? Who has admired social status?
Who is disdained?
Who is ignored? Who has no voice?
How does social status affect the behavior of the people who live here?
Pull in closer.
Look around. Where are you?
What is the housing like here? How does it tie in with who lives here?
How does the housing between groups or places differ and why?
Pull in closer.
What do you smell? What do you hear?
What do you feel—is there a texture to the air? Is it easy to breathe?
Are you warm? Cold?
Do you feel heavy? Light? Physically, mentally or spiritually?
Are you comfortable? Safe?
Are you in danger? Threatened? From who or what?
Who do you see? Who is here?
Is there an object here? Is it important? To who?
Does it have meaning? What?
What is wrong here? What is at stake in this place?
Hopefully now you have a good feel for the world you are writing. Use these exercises whenever you need to construct a different world. Come back next month for more writing prompts and exercises. Until then, happy writing!
When you’re writing aND YOU CAN’T FIND THE RIGHT WORD
I love you
This is a really good article about how quickly people actually die from cuts and punctures inflicted by swords and knives. However, it’s really really long and I figured that since I was summarizing for my own benefit I’d share it for anyone else who is writing fiction that involves hacking and slashing your villain(s) to death. If you want the nitty gritty of the hows and whys of this, you can find it at the original source.
…even in the case of mortal wounds, pain may not reach levels of magnitude sufficient to incapacitate a determined swordsman.
Causes of death from stabs and cuts:
- massive bleeding (exsanguination) - most common
- air in the bloodstream (air embolism)
- suffocation (asphyxia)
- air in the chest cavity (pneumothorax)
- infectionStabbing vs cutting:
- Stabbing someone actually takes very little force if you don’t hit bone or hard cartilage.
- The most important factor in the ease of stabbing is the velocity of the blade at impact with the skin, followed by the sharpness of the blade.
- Stabbing wounds tend to close after the weapon is withdrawn.
- Stabbing wounds to muscles are not typically very damaging. Damage increases with the width of the blade.
- Cutting wounds are typically deepest at the site of initial impact and get shallower as force is transferred from the initial swing to pushing and pressing.
- Cutting wounds have a huge number of factors that dictate how deep they are and how easily they damage someone: skill, radial velocity, mass of the blade, and the size of the initial impact.
- Cutting wounds along the grain of musculature are not typically very damaging but cutting wounds across the grain can incapacitate.
Arteries vs veins:
- Severed veins have almost zero blood pressure and sometimes even negative pressure. They do not spurt but major veins can suck air in causing an air embolism.
- Cutting or puncturing a vein is usually not fatal.
- Severed arteries have high blood pressure. The larger arteries do spurt and can often cause death due to exsanguination.
Body parts as targets:
- Severing a jugular vein in the neck causes an air embolism and will make the victim collapse after one or two gasps for air.
- Severing a carotid artery in the neck cuts off the blood supply to the brain but the victim may be conscious for up to thirty seconds.
- Stabbing or cutting the neck also causes the victim to aspirate blood that causes asphyxiation and death.
- Severing a major abdominal artery or vein would cause immediate collapse, but this takes a fairly heavy blade and a significant amount of effort because they are situated near the spine.
- Abdominal wounds that only impact the organs can cause death but they do not immediately incapacitate.
- Severing an artery in the interior of the upper arm causes exsanguination and death but does not immediately incapacitate.
- Severing an artery in the palm side of the forearm causes exsanguination and death but does not immediately incapacitate.
- Severing the femoral artery at a point just above and behind the knee is the best location. Higher up the leg it is too well protected to easily hit. This disables and will eventually kill the victim but does not immediately incapacitate.
- Cutting across the muscles of the forearm can immediately end the opponent’s ability to hold their weapon.
- Cutting across the palm side of the wrist causes immediate loss of ability to hold a weapon.
- Stab wounds to the arm do not significantly impact the ability to wield a weapon or use it.
- Cuts and stab wounds to the front and back of the legs generally do not do enough muscle damage to cause total loss of use of that leg.
- Bone anywhere in the body can bend or otherwise disfigure a blade.
- The brain can be stabbed fairly easily through the eyes, the temples, and the sinuses.
- Stabs to the brain are more often not incapacitating.
The lungs as targets:
- Slicing into the lung stops that lung from functioning, but the other lung continues to function normally. This also requires either luck to get between the ribs or a great deal of force to penetrate the ribs.
- Stabbing the lung stops that lung from functioning, but the other lung continues to function normally. It is significantly easier to stab between ribs than to slice.
- It is possible to stab the victim from the side and pass through both lungs with an adequate length blade. It is very unlikely that this will happen with a slicing hit.
- “Death caused solely by pneumothorax is generally a slow process, occurring as much as several hours after the wound is inflicted.”
- Lung punctures also typically involve the lung filling with blood, but this is a slow process.
The heart as a target:
I’m just going to quote this paragraph outright with a few omissions and formatting changes for clarity because it’s chock-full of good info:
…[stabbing] wounds to the heart the location, depth of penetration, blade width, and the presence or absence of cutting edges are important factors influencing a wounded duelist’s ability to continue a combat.
- Large cuts that transect the heart may be expected to result in swift incapacitation…
- …stab wounds, similar to those that might be inflicted by a thrust with a sword with a narrow, pointed blade may leave a mortally wounded victim capable of surprisingly athletic endeavors.Essentially, the heart can temporarily seal itself well enough to keep pressure up for a little while if it’s a simple stab. The arteries around the heart, while they are smaller and harder to hit, actually cause incapacitation much more quickly.