2016

Attire and Adornment Exhibition of Ethnic Minority Groups

Museum of Ethnic Costumes, Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology

Southern Ethnic Groups

The garments and adornments of ethnic minorities differ a lot between those living in the south of China and those in the north. People from ethnic minority groups of south China, most living in mountainous regions, usually wear separate tops and bottoms made mainly of cotton or linen. What are displayed at this exhibition are the most gorgeous garments and adornment worn by the ethnic minorities on occasions of important festivals, revealing the diversity of models, wide option of colors in the clothing and ornaments for these people.

This square-collar blouse is heavily-embellished on the shoulder with colorful patterns featuring peaches, pomegranates, phoenix and bats set on a red foundation. The white strands of yarns used to fix the edges of motifs and the gold threads to stitch the outline of the red foundation fabric brighten the palette of the entire garment. The cross-stitched geometric floral patterns in purple, blue and green on an orange ground on the hem of the diagonal placket stand out as an interesting contrast to the foundation fabric. The central areas of sleeves and the yoke are decorated with batik appliques in the shape of vortex, a pattern called “wo tuo” in the Miao language, believed to originate in the worship of water by the Miao people. The vortex patterns with a harmonious palette here were done by applying red and yellow pigments on a single-color batik.

The central areas of sleeves and the yoke are decorated with batik appliques in the shape of vortex, a pattern called “wo tuo” in the Miao language, believed to originate in the worship of water by the Miao people. The vortex patterns with a harmonious palette here were done by applying red and yellow pigments on a single-color batik.

With a straight silhouette, broad sleeves and a vertical placket, this blouse is in patterned indigo cloth coupled with blue cotton cloth for lining. It has a back that is longer than the front, on which the two front panels would be crossed and fixed with a belt around the waist when being worn. Apart from the 6.5cm long folded cuffs, there are two side slits opening from the bottom to 23cm below the armholes. The collar is hemmed with strip-shaped decorations featuring padded appliques and cross-stitch embroidered patterns in alternating warm and cold colors.

And the Miao-style dragon patterns on the sleeves and shoulder are the signature for the sub-group of the Miao people the wearer is in. In a cute and vivid form, the dragon was shaped by overlaying strands of threads in various colors, with its head outlined by gold couching stitches and eyes expressed by beads.

And the Miao-style dragon patterns on the sleeves and shoulder are the signature for the sub-group of the Miao people the wearer is in. In a cute and vivid form, the dragon was shaped by overlaying strands of threads in various colors, with its head outlined by gold couching stitches and eyes expressed by beads.

This shirt has wide sleeves, a vertical placket and two side slits opening from bottom up to 5cm beneath armpits, a front with bottom touching the belly and a back with bottom reaching keens. White belts would be used to tie the blouse around waist when this garment is worn.

The highlight of this shirt lies in the embellishment on the lower part of the back panel. Strips of colored cloth, coupled with geometric patterns embroidered with counted stitches, complemented by the single one strip of azure cloth on the upper half, constituting an ingeniously-designed bright palette on the back of this garment

With features similar to those of the Han-style apparel, this shirt has a round collar, broad sleeves, two side slits and a diagonal placket stretching from collar to the right side of body, and equally long front and rear panels, both of which are in black satin coupled with dark blue cotton cloth lining. Multi-layered purfle and embroidered motifs are applied to the cuffs and the central front panel, and ruyi-shaped cloud patterns on the underarm area.

On the shoulders there are smooth and glossy blue and white flowers on branches with vivid forms done mainly by plain embroidery technique.

Most of the decorative appliques are placed on the upper half of sleeves, the yoke and the back. With a bright palette of green, golden, rose and purple, these floral motifs are outlined with embroidered auspicious patterns such as fish, Chinese character of longevity, phoenix, etc., making these elements visually appealing and highly decorative.

With no collar, a vertical placket, and one belt attached to each side of the collar, this shirt is in blue glossy batik without lining. Having no seams between shoulders and sleeves, and two side slits opening from bottom right up to 19cm below armpits, the front and rear panels are in the same length, with the the former hemmed with red cotton cloth while that on the latter with blue cloth.

The Hani ethnic group is known for its multiple branches and evident difference on the apparel among its sub-groups. Famous for heavy adornments, the Aini branch love passionate color palettes and graphic patterns. This collarless, buttonless indigo blouse with a vertical placket made of hand-spun cotton cloth was designed for Aini women to wear on grand occasions.

The back of this garment is heavily adorned. The lower one third of the back panel is embroidered with chain and fret motifs in colors all over, among which scatter silver plates.

The white cloth on the back of this topwear is embellished with six groups of lozenge patches in colors of, from top to bottom, light blue, black and reddish purple, arranged in two rows.

This Yao people's dog-tail outfit is composed of a blouse, a bellyband and a skirt, all made of black handspun cotton cloth. With a height of 154.7cm, a width between two cuffs of 131.2cm, a cuff width of 11.9cm and a width of lap bottom of 58cm, this blouse features a loose size, a vertical placket and long sleeves.

The pleated skirt of the dog-tail outfit made of black handspun cloth has a length of 54.1cm, a waist line of 95.1cm, a lap line of 169cm and a waist band width of 1.6cm. It features evenly-arranged 1cm-wide vertical pleats, with every five pleats crossed with one group of horizontal creases in parallel. When flattened, it takes on a fan shape, the bottom edge of which is embellished with three groups of 7.5cm-wide purple embroidery appliques. The two sides of the skirt feature three groups of squares composed of red, green and white appliques, echoing the applique adornment on sleeves and placket of the blouse.

With a height of 75cm and width of 69cm, one corner of the square foundation fabric was made into the collar with a height of 10cm and width of 11.5cm. In order to save fabrics sometimes, the Yao women would piece together a square foundation for a bellyband out of leftover patches. When wearing the blouse of a dog tail outfit, the belly of the wearer is easily to be exposed as the front panel is shorter than the rear one. That’s why a bellyband becomes a necessary piece for the outfit.

Made of the Yao people's black handspun cotton cloth, this blouse has a standing collar, a vertical placket and two broad sleeves. While the back panel hanging below the hip, the front panel features two black cotton patches, each stretching to the ankle, decorated with folds and creases on the lower lap.

Sewn together with three patches of black handspun cotton cloth, this Pai Yao women's short skirt has a length of 51cm, waist line of 85cm, waist band piping width of 0.8cm and lap bottom line of 101.5cm. The three handmade folds on the back waist are believed to help accentuate the female figure. The middle and lower lap is decorated with densely-arranged meticulously-embroidered ecru saw-toothed waves, thick ones interlacing with thin ones.

This blouse features a loose body, slim sleeves, a vertical placket without buttons, and a 3cm-wide embroidered belt stretching from collar to lower lap. It is equipped with a waist belt. Eye-catching orange embroidered motifs on the sleeves and lap constitute as a strong contrast to the black foundation. While making the garment appealing to the eye, embroidered motifs on the cuffs and lap corners that get frayed easily also help to enhance durability of the apparel, a testimony to the tradition of "embroidery on the body and jin-silk on the hem" of Chinese apparel-making.

Equipped with a waist belt made of same-color handspun cloth, this pair of trousers has a length of 47cm, a loose crotch, a flattened width of 65cm and a leg width of 22cm. Due to the limit of width of the Yao people's loom, such loose-crotch pants were usually sewn together with multiple square patches.

Baiku Yao, a branch of the Yao ethnic minority named after the custom of wearing tight-fit white trousers, long hair and white hair wraps by the men of this sub-group, has a population of less than 40,000 who live mainly in Yaoshan town, Libo County, Guizhou province as well as in Lihu town and Bayu town of Nandan county, Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region.

The hem of the trousers legs is decorated with cross-stitched motifs, done by arranging equally-long cross stitches diagonally passing through the crossing points of the weft and warp threads. This technique is more often used for geometric patterns, and when it comes to the subject of animals, figures, or flowers, the motifs by this category would be very generalized and abstract, thus highly-decorative.

This Yi women's blue cotton blouse with a diagonal placket and two slim sleeves serves as an innerwear to go with vests. With a height of 70 cm, a width between two cuffs of 160 cm, a cuff width of 13 cm and a lap bottom width of 67.5 cm, this garment features a round collar, a diagonal placket stretching from collar to the right side of waist, red cotton piping on collar, and two side slits. Designed to be worn inside a vest, this piece made of plain blue cotton cloth is not adorned with any motifs.

This Yi women’s shirt applies both applique and padded applique embroidery. By applique embroidery, the crafters would first cut cloth, gauze or twill into appliques featuring patterns they wanted, paste them onto the foundation weave, and then fix them with stitches along the edges of the patches. Palette and layers of applique embroidery can be flexible, either one layer of one single color or multiple layers of various colors. This is the way how the goat horn patterns were created on the sleeves of this garment, namely, by pasting cut-outs of black cotton cloth onto sleeves of red cloth and then chain stitching the edges with eye-catching yellow threads, resulting in a standing-out palette with red, black and yellow.

This Yi women's black vest with a vertical placket and applique embroidery was designed to be worn outside the blue cotton cloth blouse featuring a diagonal placket as well as narrow sleeves. It has a height of 70.5cm, a lap bottom line of 78cm and two side slits. Light blue, light yellow and orange appliques in the shapes of sheep horns, ruyi and S stand as a sharp contrast to the black foundation of the cotton cloth, creating an arresting visual effect. The wearer would seem to be covered with floral motifs when she wears both the vest and the blouse, testifying to the love of beautiful look of the Yi women.

This colorful homespun pleated skirt outfit has a height of 116 cm, waist width of 17cm, waistline of 124cm and unfolded bottom length of 1520 cm. With an upper-half in a straight-fit shape and lower-half in pleats, this garment applied nankeen for waist, black homespun cotton cloth for the upper-half and indigo homemade cloth for pleats. Horizontal red stripe patterns can be seen on the pleats, coupled with equally highly-decorative green strips fixed onto the bottom hem in bright red with yellow stitches. Tough parts of the outfit are in complicated patterns of bright colors, it exudes simplicity and exquisiteness.

With a height of 45cm, a width between two cuffs of 122cm, a lap bottom width of 39cm, and a cuff width of 15cm, this women's colorful cotton blouse embellished with applique embroidery features an upside-down T-shape, a square collar, a vertical placket and narrow sleeves. The two barrel-shaped sleeves were made by pieces black and dark red cotton patches, while in the armholes blue cotton cloth was cut into triangles and sewn together with the body and sleeves so as to allow enough room for activities of the arms.

This pair of black barrel-shaped pants adorned with applique embroidery was designed to go with the Yi women's colorful cotton blouse also featuring appliques. With a length of 80cm, a waist line of 70cm, a trouser leg width of 40cm, a crotch height of 37cm, this pair of trousers made of black cotton cloth features densely-arranged pleats around the waistband, as well as loose legs with which the wearer would seem to be wearing a skirt. Two additional patches were sewn onto the crotch as well as the inner side of trouser legs, which not only allow more room for the crotch and the legs, but also made sure that the entire piece looks as spectacular by covering the sewing seams. The two corners of the trouser legs are decorated with red, blue, green and yellow applique triangles, which echo the adornment on the topwear.

With a length of 64cm, a width of 8cm and an applique hem width of 9cm, this waist wrap features a 2cm-wide white hem decorated with floral patterns. Made of black cotton cloth with inconspicuous lozenge shapes, this waist wrap's lower half is adorned with square appliques filled with small applique triangles in colors of red, blue, green, yellow and white. The geometric appliques were distributed in different directions and density based on the position of triangles, making the embellishment full of dynamics and liveliness.

This pullover applied thread-counting embroidery to the central front panel, applique embroidery to the bottom of the front and the central back panel, and batik decoration to the two sleeves.

Applique embroidery is a technique widely used in garment-making of ancient China. The crafters would first cut cloth, gauze or twill into appliques featuring patterns they wanted, paste them onto the foundation weave, and then fix them with stitches along the edges of the patches. Palette and layers of applique embroidery can be flexible, either one layer of one single color or multiple layers of various colors.

Thread-counting embroidery is usually applied to a tabby foundation by counting the exact threads of weft and warp when making every stitch based on pre-designed patterns in order to create evenly-arranged stitches on the exactly right positions. Batik is a traditional dyeing technique of drawing patterns with wax on cloth and removing the wax after having been soaked in indigo, ending up with an elegantly-colored piece of fabric with white patterns on a blue foundation, or the other way around.

With superb fabric and exquisite embellishment, this wedding dress adopted a glossy fabric with patterns of flowers on branches done with splitting stitches on the red satin of sleeves. Motifs by padded applique and gold couching embroidery, along with chain-stitched loops with three as a group, can be seen on the bottom of front and rear panels. The traditional technique of “three stitches backwards” was applied in the cuffs and bottom of panels, making the garment more visually-appealing while preventing the edges from fraying.

Copper buttons were arranged along the placket from collar to lap bottom. Meticulously-crafted intertwined flowers and geometric motifs can be found on collar, lower lap and cuffs. Two rows of silver nails with the middle ones featuring the shape of traditional Chinese cloisonné.

Intertwined flowers, a decorative pattern extending people's worship of reproduction, finished with silk-splitting embroidery, can be found on the red satin of cuffs, which are hemmed with 10cm-wide cloth patches in various colors as well as folded triangles.

This Xichou Zhuang women's pleated skirt with the hemline touching knees and a lap width of 3.6m is composed of a 10cm-wide indigo batik waistband and a lap made of homespun and hand-dyed black glossy cloth. There are 178 pleats all together on the thick, heavy, warm-keeping lap. Two patches of glossy cloth were sewn together to make this piece, with colorful jin-silk tapes adorning the seam.

This Zhuang people's headwrap designed for grand occassions was made by interlacing black homespun cloth with lozenge jin-silk, with the seams adorned by colorful geometric satin appliques. The two ends of the headwrap are both decorated with plain green satin and embroidered orange satin, which creat a sharp color contrast against the black foundation. This carefully-colored and meticulously-crafted piece was designed to go with the Zhuang blouses and skirts. The orange satin features woven crane motifs, a symbol of longevity in traditional Chinese culture, a testimony to the Zhuang people's longing for longevity and happy life. When wearing the headwrap, the Zhuang women in Yangnong of Yunnan province would arrange it into the shape of buffalo or ox horns out of their worship of the ox totem.

This blouse with a diagonal placket stretching from collar downwards to the right side of waist, a round collar, narrow sleeves long enough to touch palms, and pockets around placket belongs to the Tuliao branch of the Zhuang ethnic group. The placket is hemmed with three blue cotton strips with piping, each 3cm wide. Both the chest and the back are appliqued with a square patch sewn together with blue, black and yellow cotton cloth. While mainly in the color of indigo, the blouse features sleeves pieced together with light blue, yellow and beige homespun fabric. The collar and cuffs are hemmed with blue and yellow cotton tapes and the shoulders are adorned with applique embroidery.

The main pattern with an exaggerated yet vivid form stands out from the center of the well-designed composition, making the entire piece highly-decorative coupled with the eye-catching color contrast.

This light yellow long skirt belonging to the Tuliao women of the Zhuang ethnic group was pieced together with 14 cotton cloth patches. Hemmed with continuous motifs of checkers, lozenges and frogs, this item is adorned with geometric dragon pattern woven with black and blue silk threads via satin stitches. Motifs of natural characters were embroidered skillfully around the woven pattern, creating a unique visual effect based on the integral combination of abstract geometric and natural decorative elements.

Motifs of natural characters were embroidered skillfully around the woven pattern, creating a unique visual effect based on the integral combination of abstract geometric and natural decorative elements.

This coat features a placket with black jin-silk piping and cloth buttons, as well as sleeves touching the middle of former arms with 10cm-wide folded cuffs. On grand occasions, the Nakhi women would usually wear up to three such coats in different colors, with the back lap of the outer 1cm shorter than that of the inner, which is deemed as a symbol of abundance.

The Nakhi women in Lijiang of Yunnan province love to wear a collar-less blouse with a vertical placket, covered with a loose coat with broad sleeves and black velvet piping along the placket. A vest made of red or dark blue wool felt, a pleated waistband and long trousers are the other three components of a Nakhi woman's traditional outfit.

This vest woven with dates-red wool felt has a diagonal placket, blue cloth lining, black velvet piping on collar and along the placket, and traditional cotton frogs.

This waist wrap of the Nakhi women was done all by hand. The evenly-arranged stitches make evident the ingenious skills of the maker. Pleated waist wraps are seen as the symbol of the wisdom and diligence of the Nakhi women.

This cape is made of wool felt and sheepskin. Wool felt is a soft-touching and warm-keeping fabric woven with strands of wool yarns, resistant to ruffles or abrasion. When making clothes of sheep skin, the whole skin of a sheep would be chosen and then cut into a square by removing the head and four limbs.

Seven round cloth patches are arranged in a line in the center of the cape, from the center of each hang two sheepskin tapes. Such a design, symbolizing the seven stars of the Big Dipper, is commonly known as “getting up by starlight and not getting off work until the moon rises”, a testimony to the busy farming life of the diligent Nakhi women.

Different from the Nakhi people living in Lijiang, the Eya branch of the Nakhi ethnic group in Muli County, Liangshan Yi Autonomous Region, Sichuan Province, features men's attire similar to that of the Han people due to the close touch between the two groups.

This men's long jacket of Eya Nakhi branch has a diagonal placket, cotton frogs, dark green lining which would be exposed when the cuffs are folded. The body and sleeves of this item were sewn together with multiple 15cm-wide fireweed cloth patches, each decorated with unevenly-arranged abstract geometric motifs in the shape of lozenges, arrows and waves.

Vests are a popular type of attire for people living in the north and ethnic minority groups in the mountainous regions of the southwest. Collected from Lijiazui village, Wujiao town, Muli county, Sichuan province, a tribe with the most well-preserved matriarchal culture living in a place facing the Yunnan-Guizhou Plateau and back toward the Qinghai-Tibetan Plateau, this sleeveless, vertical-placket Nakhi vest, 57cm wide and 64cm high, was knit with tan woolen yarns. The cuffs and placket are hemmed with woolen yarns in colors of red, yellow, green and blue. Around the waist there are multiple cross-stitched motifs, further adorned with short fringes. The broad shoulders give this item a decorous look.

Known as "ketu" by local people, this tight-fitting jacket with a vertical placket for Jino women has no collar, no buttons, narrow sleeves, hemline below waistline, straight lap without side slits. Lining can only be found around the bust. Though with a simple model, this jacket features rich colors, with colorful woven horizontal stripes decorating the lower lap made of the unique "hacking knife cloth" of the Jino group, a kind of fabric hand-woven by use of a wood tool in the shape of hacking knives. Colorful belts were also sewn onto the sleeves with densely-arranged stitches, creating an eye-catching color palette. With decoration of both woven stripes and applique colorful belts, this jacket shows a rich yet harmonious color combination, echoing the coloring design of the waistband and short skirt of the outfit.

This unlined shirt for adult Jino men in a simple model crafted with common techniques has no collar, no buttons, a vertical placket and long sleeves. Composed of two patches sewn together, it was made of the unique "hacking knife cloth" of the Jino group, a kind of fabric hand-woven by use of a wood tool in the shape of hacking knives. Its collar is hemmed with black cotton cloth. The woven colorful stripes on the hacking knife cloth were allocated purposefully around positions of bust, arms, wrists and lower back.

Known as "lezuo", this pair of pants for adult Jino men made of white hacking knife cloth features loost waistband, long legs, tapes attached to the left side slit on the waistband. Two pieces of crotch covers were attached to the item, the front longer than the back, a tradition passed down from earlier generations. With shoes not a necessity, the Jino men loved to wear pants with below-knee legs in the past, to go with chin wraps made of hacking knife cloth with colorful hems.

This coat was designed for winter wear of the Dong women living in Zhaisong, Guizhou province. It was usually used to go with long-sleeve blouses. With a round collar, shoulders and sleeves on one seamless piece, this item features a "凸"-shape, known as "pipa placket" which stretches from the collar downwards until about 10cm from the hemline.

This blouse is heavily embellished on the central placket and the cuffs with multi-layer inlaid cloth and samite strips and wide hems decorated with motifs created by the horsetail hair embroidery, a unique ethnic handicraft that applies horsetail hair as the most important material in embroidery. In comparison, the other parts of this garment is in a dark palette with minimal embellishment, serving as a foil to the relief-like patterns of horsetail hair embroidery that are of complicated forms and in bright colors.

This single-piece pleated skirt is the most representative bottomwear of the Dong women. Made of unlined dark blue linen, this skirt has a hemline below knees, hanger loops on the two sides of the waistband used for the belt to go through. This shirt usually goes with chin wraps. Having gone through a special procedure, the section below the waist band is stiff and in shape, embellished with evenly-arranged pleats.

The witty and handy Dong women usually make by hand highly-embellished embroidered shoes to go with their gorgeous dresses. These shoes, with exquisite embroidered patterns and an eye-catching palette, represents a perfect combination of beauty and function.

Apart from the refined embroidered motifs on the vamp, on this pair of shoes there are also colorful layers of inlaid strips between the sole and the quarter as well as carefully hand-sewn hems along the topline and the throat, adding more visual appeal to the shoes while making them more wearable.

Both the Dong and the Yi people love to adorn their clothes with plant patterns. This pair of shoes features curly leaf motifs on the vamp, finished with long and short stitches, and also on the counter, done with applique embroidery.

With a height of 56cm, a bust line of 58cm and a width between two cuffs of 149cm, this lining-less, button-less Buyi women's blouse made of black cotton cloth features side slits, a slightly curly lap, a diagonal placket stretching from collar to the right side of waist, along with two sleeves on a seamless single piece with the shoulders. On the sleeves there are three barrel-shaped ornaments, the two side ones batik with whirl shape and the middle one colorful jin-silk patch with lozenge patterns.

With a length of 81cm, a waistline of 100 cm, a flattened width of 360cm, this Buyi women's long pleated skirt made of one single piece of cloth hangs to the ankles. The waist band is extended on the two ends, serving as a belt. This piece is composed of two sections, with the upper 25cm below the waistband made of single-layer batik while the lower part made of double-layer black and red cotton cloth. The pleats on the outer and inner layers are so compatible to each other that they seem to be one single heavy piece.

With a "凸"-shape, a length of 81cm and a maximum lap width of 58cm, this Buyi people's waist wrap is equipped with a floral-pattern-adorned belt which is used to hang from the neck, as well as two side tapes. Such waist wraps are usually worn a little below the position of aprons. Embellished with embroidered motifs finished with various techniques on colorful satin, gold-wefted brocade hems, this piece usually goes with silver necklaces as well as overcoats. The lap of the wrap serves as a perfect cover of the pleat-less area on the pleated skirt.

Museum of Ethnic Costumes, Beijing Institute of Fashion Technology
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