Traditional Dress of Southern Ethnic Groups

Museum of Ethnic Cultures, Minzu University of China

34 ethnic groups live in southern China, this exhibit showcases traditional dresses of 15 ethnic groups among them

This Miao outfit is made of black fannel, with linen sleeves, and embroidered with butterfly, dragon, and cattle motifs.

It is also ornamented with engraved silver plates, baubles, and tassels both front and back. The traditional costume of the Miao includes a shirt and skirt, eavily embroidered and decorated with silver.

This costume is an outfit to be worn for festivals and special occaions. In daily life, simpler garments are worn.

This clothing is from the Gejia branch of the Miao, and is decorated with batik print patterns.

This festive costume would have been worn by a Miao woman.

The top is made of homespun cloth decorated with pigtail embroidery of wild peonies,sybolizing reunion.

Each ribbon is divided into three segments: the upper represents the Qingshui River, the middle represents the Yangzi River, and the bottom represents the Yellow River. This design sybolizes the migtation route that the ancestors of the Miao followed, from the Yellow River to the Yangzi River, and eventually coming to the present home near the Qingshui River.

This Miao dress is made of glossy waxed cloth. The sleeves and one side of the front part of the dress are embroidered with floral patterns. There are floral designs embroidered accross the back of the jacket as well. The outfit is completed with a pleated skirt with batik designs.

This is a costume worn by Miao men for the Guzang Festival. The three heads of Guzang will wear this costume during the festival. It is decorated with dragon, pheonix, and bird motifs, embroidered all over the garment using a special technique called "cocoon embroidery."

This is made by first putting silkworms on a flat surface, the silk produced by the worms will form a peice of a cocoon which are then stuck together on a peice of plain white cloth with gum from the Chinese honeylocust fruit (Gleditsia sinensis) or konjac gell (from Amorphophallus konjac). Afterwards, it is embroidered with various paaterns using colored silk thread.

This is the traditional costume of a Yi man. The black top is embroidered with colorful laces. The trousers have wide legs that normally come in a range of sizes. Yi men wear a turban made from a long piece of blue cloth. The ends of the cloth is tied into the shape of a horn to the right of the forehead. It is called “Hero Knot” and symbolizes courage .

This is the traditional dress of a Yi woman. The swirl motif, locally called a "ram horn" pattern, is first cut from a piece of red cloth and then sewn onto the black cloth with yellow thread. This simple, practical and colorful pattern alludes to the traditional pastoralist culture of the Yi. The red represents fire, the yellow represents the tiger, and the black represents the clan's social status, all of which are significant in traditional Yi society.

This was the armor of a Yi warrior. It is made of two parts: the breastplate and the back-plate. Each plate is also divided into two parts, the upper part is composed of five large pieces of lacquered leather to protect the chest.The lower part is made of strings of leather pieces to protect the stomach. It opens on the side. It was not only worn as armor for combat, but also a symbol of wealth and power.

This is Yi woman's traditional robe featuring a shoulder-fastening chest flap. The back is decorated with embroidered blue ribbons, and the collar, cuff and waistband are decorated with silver beads.

This garment is made of red cloth with yellow, blue and white strips and embroidered with square and coin-like patterns.

This is a jacket worn by a Yi woman. The clothing of the Yi comes in a great variety local designs. This jacket is trimmed with two layers of emboridered cloth.

This was the robe of a Tibetan nobleman. It is emboridered with dragons and lotus flowers to symbolize good forturne. The clothing of Tibetan nobles was made with fine materials and intricate patterns.

Tibetan robes are very loose, and are usually worn with a belt tied around the waist and with one sleeve thrown over the shoulder. Although it is long enough to almost reach the ground, these robes are usually worn knee-length, with the excess pulled up by the belt in order to form a pouch that can be used to carry things like wooden bowls.

It is made of golden brocade with cloud and Chinese dragon pattern; the front and the cuff are trimmed with animal fur. In ancient times, it is usually worn by local government officials in Tibet on important occasions.

This was the brocade robe of a Tibetan noblewoman. It is trimmed with a wide band of fur from a Eurasian river otter (Lutra lutra). Today, China's otter populations are endangered and have been given national protection, ending the hunting of otters in China.The robe is worn with a decorative silver belt which is wide enough to cover the entire midsection of the robe. Robes like this were usually embroidered with flower patterns and studded with jewels. In addition to the robe, Tibetans usually wear a dagger on one side and accessories on the other side, tucked into the belt. The headwear is decorated with precious stones such as amber and coral. In Tibetan society, wealth and status were indicated by clothing made of high quality cloth and adorned with precious jewels.

This is a Tibetan robe made of rich purple wool with leopard fur trim (probably from Pantera pardus delacouri). Tibetan robes are worn loose, with long, wide sleeves. They are usually made of wool, sheep skin or brocade. The collar, cuffs, and hem are usually trimmed with fur, wool or colorful cloth. This kind of robe is easy to put on, take off, or can be worn with one shoulder exposed, versatility that is suitable for doing hard work in Tibet's volatile weather.

This type of dress is worn by the She women in Fujian Province, and is called a Phoenix Dress. The colorful lace embroidery represents the phoenix's neck, waist and beautiful feathers. Women coil their hair on the top of the head and tie it with red wool thread, symbolizing the phoenix's head. There is a legend about the origin of the Phoenix Dress, that long ago, King Gaoxin married his third daughter to Panhu, the ancestor of the She people, as a reward for a victory in battle. The Queen sent a phoenix crown and a phoenix dress to the Thrid Princess along with her best wishes for a happy life. Afterwards, the Third Princess gave birth to one girl and three boys. When the girl married, a phoenix came back from Phoenix Mountains with the shinning Phoenix Dress in its beak. Since then, the She women have made it a tradition to wear the Phoenix Dress as a blessing.

This jacket is made of gunny cloth with black trim around the collar, the cuffs and accross the front hem.

This is the traditional clothing of a Li woman. The top is made of indigo sackcloth without a collar or buttons, while the lappel is trimmed with beads and colored tassels. The hem of the top is trimmed with copper bells and copper coins. The tight skirt below is embroidered with multi-colored threads in geometric patterns.

There is a long history of textile production among the Li, and they are well-known for the quality of their craftsmanship. Tight skirts usually can be classified into three categories: short, medium, and long. The textiles of the Li feature colored designs using white, red, yellow, green, and indigo threads. and various patterns as decoration, which are regcognized as its exquisite and dignity.

This Lahu dress is made of black velveteen, decorated with silver balls and embroidered patterns around the collar, cuffs and hem.

The skirt is usually embroidered with wave-like patterns that evoke fields of grain.

The Lahu robe is made of hand-woven cloth, embroidered with intricate designs in red, yellow, blue, white, and black on the collar, lapels, and at the hem.

The color black has great significance to the Zhuang. This green silk blouse is front opening, with close-fitting cuffs and is decorated with blue silk and embroidered lace.

The front edge and the hem are decorated with silver plates balls. The long skirt is a black and pleated.

This Lisu dress is made of linen. Spinning and waving linen was an important skill learned by every Lisu woman. Girls begin learning to spin thread as children. Though linen is not as soft as cotton, it is strong, breathable, and moisture resistant, and well suited to the hot and humid climate of southwestern China.

This is a blue jacket made by the Dong. It is made of dark cloth and patches of lighter cloth adorning the sleeves.The bottom is trimed with square, diamond, and triangular patterns, and copper bells and feather hang from the fringe. The outfit is completed with a skirt that is decorated with ribbons and feather. This outfit is worn by men for the "lusheng" dance during major festivals.

This skirt would have been worn by a Dong woman. The black waistband and green strips are embroidered with fish, dragon, and sun motifs.

The dress is made of purple glossy hand-woven cloth with cross collar and no button, hitched by a pair of cotton tapes. It is trimmed with colorful laces, matched with embroidered bellyeband inside, pleated skirt and apron outside.

Dong cloth is woven and dyed by hands, which can be divied into plain cloth, demin, Chinese prickly ash eyes cloth, plait grain cloth etc. After soaked with diluted cattle glue or applied a layer of egg white, repeatedly beaten with a wooden hammer, then the color of the cloth will be brighter.

This is a Naxi cape made of sheepskin and black wool. The seven round patterns represent seven stars and the two upper ones represent the sun and the moon. Together they symbolize the spiritual nature of the Naxi but also allude to the daily lives of Naxi women, who rise in the morning while the stars are still in the sky, and work until the moon comes up in the evening.

The cape is also meant to resemble a frog, an important totem in Naxi shamanism, representing the roaming and nomadic life of the Naxi's ancestors before they settled.

These are the traditional clothes of a Yeche woman, a branch of Hani. The black cloth is hand woven and dyed.Yeche women wear shorts and collarless jackets with silver ornaments at the waist. The jackets are worn in many layers. The greater the number of layers, the greater the wealth of the woman wearing it. This particular garment has 9 to 12 layers.

This is an example of Hani clothing made of curare bark.The bark cloth is made from the bark of a tree with a thick, straight trunk, which is peeled from the trunk after the tree is cut down, then rubbed with water to soften it and laid out to dry in the sun. Once it is processed, the bark can be cut and sewn into clothing.

This is one of the most ancient surviving techniques for making clothing and in the past it was very popular among the Hani and Dai in Xishuangbanna, Yunnan. Today, though, the art of making clothing from bark has been completely abandoned.

This is a set of clothes worn by a Jino woman. It is consists of a short, collarless and buttonless jacket made of woven cloth, with a sash underneath, a short tight skirt and a pointy hat.

This is a traditional Jino men's coat, made of woven cloth. The back was embroidered with circular sunflower motif.

This is a traditional set of clothing for a Dai man.The purple brocade jacket has an open front, with ebroidered cuffs displaying bird, butterfly, flower and golden dragon patterns. Dai men usually wear straight woolen skirts decorated with brocade around the middle.

This vest has neither collar nor sleeves, and is decorated with embrodery and buttons.

This gunny cloth top is in the shape of a tube. The shoulders and cuffs are decorated with geometric patterns in red and black.

This is is a linen vest, sewed from two pieces of sackcloth, decorated with strings of beads. To make such a dress, people harvested giant clams and ground them into shell beads. It takes tens of thousands of shell beads to make such a dress. Only the tribal chiefs or heroes were allowed to wear it. It is a symbol of power, status and wealth. In the past, it can also be used as a betrothal gift or money.

The hem and the back of the top of this vest are decorated with shell beads, copper bells and coins.

This is the traditional clothing of a Jingpo woman. The top is made of black velveteen, decorated with dozens of sliver balls.

The tight skirt is made of wool, normally featuring geometric pattern embroidered with burgundy thread.

This dress would have been worn by Huayao woman, a branch of the Dai in Yunnan. The name "Huayao" means "Colorful Waistband" and they get their name from colorful costumes like this one. The bolero, shorter than the waistband, is trimmed with embroidery along the collar, cuff and hem.Huayao Dai women usually wear three tight skirts, with the longer ones underneath so that each layer shows. Traditionally, this skirt should be worn higher on left than on the right.

This coat is made of homespun cloth, and decorated with embroidered lace and several red balls of yarn on the front lappels, while purple tassels hang from the back of collar.

This coat is made of cyan homespun cloth, and is decorated with floral patterns embroidered using colored threads.

The Lhoba skirt is made from the straw of finger millet (Eleusine coracana) which is locally called "Chicken claw millet" because the ear of grain splits into three claw-like appendages on the stalk. In the past, women in the Mili and Genhe tribes of the Lhoba used to wear skirts like this one. Today cloth skirt are more practical, however, it is not uncommon for women to wear grass skirts over their modern clothing.

This sleevelss gown is made of black wool.The shoulder and hem are trimmed with golden brocade.

This black woolen pullover dress is sewn from two long pieces of wool, leaving 30cm open on the top as a collar. The waist is decorated with metal chains and seashells.

Nationalities Museum, Minzu University
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