In previous episodes of The Apothecary Diaries, we caught a glimpse of what they called the Garden Party. Here gathers all of the other concubines of the emperor in a big feast together with their lady-in-waiting and other higher ranking officials. Safe to say, it’s an event important to royalty in the setting.
Starting the events at Episode 5, our main character Maomao has received hairpins from Lady Gyokuyou and Jinshi. However, this turns to a mysterious item as Maomao doesn’t even know what the hairpins signify. Next in Episode 6, a rising official, gives Maomao another hairpin. She also receives a hairpin from Lady Lihua, as if that wasn’t enough. Maomao is now rather perplexed as to the meaning of these hairpins. But then in Episode 7, the meaning of hairpins is then relayed by Maomao’s friend Xiaolin but was still kept secret from the viewers.
After some details portrayed in the events of the previous episodes, I guess it is safe to conclude that there are two possible interpretations of the hairpin, depending on who offers it.
A Hint of Romance
A male employee’s love interest in a female lady-in-waiting is shown if he offers her a hairpin. The lady-in-waiting may also be able to depart the palace for a quick excursion with the person who gifted her this hairpin.
A Royal Privilege
However, it is considered a gesture of gratitude when a higher-ranking individual, such as a high-ranking consort, presents a lower-ranking individual, like a lady-in-waiting, a hairpin. It’s akin to saying, “Thank you for your hard work, and I look forward to seeing more from you in the future.”
There you have it, then! At last, the enigma behind the hairpins in Apothecary Diaries is cleared up. We can now decipher the underlying implications of these apparently straightforward items.
Care to comment your thoughts in this mysterious tradition?