Miao Jackets

Ref. Number: A451

Country: China

Baixing Jacket

Baixing Jacket

Chinese historical records show that the Miao ethnic group used to live along the Yellow river, much earlier than any other ethnic group in China. Because of wars, and changes in the living environment, the Miao gradually established many tribes when they moved further south. These tribes have different lifestyles and different types of costume developed during cultural exchanges with other nationalities, while maintaining their own traditions.

Knowledge of traditional Miao embroidery has been handed down from generation to generation. Girls as young as six or seven years old begin to learn their craft at their mothers’ sides.  For the Miao women, their embroidery works represent their wisdom, hard work, and artistry. Bright colored patterns and designs are embroidered on their costumes which are worn at festivals where boys and girls meet to find their marriage partners. It is customary for a Miao girl to embroider her wedding dress, an effort that usually takes three to five years to complete.

Jianhe Child's vest

Jianhe Child's vest

Miao women often wear a hair bun tied with a red silk ribbon or batik or embroidered, angular kerchief. The collarless gowns are buttoned down the front or on the right and are embroidered with floral patterns. They often use homespun flax to make clothes. They embroider various patterns on the flax and attach much importance to symmetry and layout. Generally, shirts made of flax reach the insteps. In some places, shirts are short and only reach the knees.

Girls and unmarried women usually wear blue clothes, while middle- and old-aged women usually wear black clothes with white and blue waistbands.

The Miaos wear leggings, adorn their chests with a silver badge, wear silver earrings and earbobs, and a wooden floray cap in the shape of a round plate and inlaid with silver flowers.

Most Miao men wear a short gown buttoned down the front and a large bamboo hat, or wrap their heads with black cloth. In some places, men wear a long, high-collared linen gown buttoned down the right side or a collarless long gown buttoned down the front and embroidered with colorful designs on the cuffs. In some places, men wear a collarless long gown buttoned down the front without colorful patterns around the cuffs, white waistcloth and white or blue trousers.

Anshun Jacket

Anshun Jacket

The artwork of the Miao ethnic group has been sought after by art collectors and museums worldwide. In Southern California, the Bowers Museum in Santa Ana has an on-going exhibit of Miao costumes.

More info from the British Museum, click here

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