Episode 5 of The Apothecary Diaries saw Jinshi give Maomao his silver hairpin after he learned of her hard past while visiting Lady Gyokuyo before the Garden Party. The gesture came across as an intimate one, with many fans wondering what it meant.
It’s been clear in the past few episodes that Jinshi holds a romantic liking for Maomao who doesn’t seem to return his feelings. With this in mind, what’s the significance of the hairpin Jinshi gifts Maomao? Let’s explore that in this article.
Jinshi’s Hairpin and its Significance
In ancient China, hairpins were a status symbol signifying a young girl’s transition into womanhood. These girls were considered eligible for marriage after undergoing a hairpin ceremony at the age of 15. Other than that, hairpins also represented a token of love in betrothals and long journeys. As The Apothecary Diaries is set in Ming-era China, it borrows from history to depict being gifted with a hairpin as a significant gesture.
The show does not explain the complete meaning behind the gesture, but fans can speculate. The first explanation paints the hairpin as a mark of special favor. By giving Maomao his silver hairpin, Jinshi is essentially making it known she has the favor of someone high-ranking and dissuading those who may bear her ill will.
This explanation makes Jinshi’s hairpin a mark of his protection and is particularly likely considering how Maomao spoke of giving herself freckles to make her less attractive as a protection measure right before receiving Jinshi’s gift. There is also a second explanation with a more romantic connotation. A young man gifting a young woman his hairpin can indicate romantic interest.
We already know that Jinshi is romantically interested in Maomao, which makes this explanation equally likely. It’s also possible that the hairpin was meant to serve as both a protection measure and a token of romantic affection. Or it could be neither of those things, with its real significance being revealed somewhere down the line.
- This article was updated on November 20th, 2023