Hats and Hair Decorations of Chinese Ethnic Minorities

By Museum of Ethnic Cultures, Minzu University of China

Museum of Ethnic Cultures, Minzu University of China

Mongol Headdress Decorated with Corals, Tophi, Silver Pieces and ChainsOriginal Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

This headdress would be worn Ordos Mongol women once they were married. It consists of a head band on the top, with tassels accross the forehead, braids on both sides, earflaps and the framework on the back.

It is decorated with highly-prized coral, turquoise, and silver ornatments. It is customary for Mongol women in Ordos always wear a headdress when they go out in public.

The average weight of headdresses worn by the married women is 3 or 4 kilos. These headdresses are quite expensive, and the value of their ornaments indicates of the family's wealth and status.

Silver Crown with Phoenix Tree Flower, Phoenix and Bird Designs Silver Crown with Phoenix Tree Flower, Phoenix and Bird DesignsOriginal Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

This is a silver headdress for teenage Miao girls as part of a costume worn during important festivals. It is made by first casting, then beating, and finally carving thin sheets of silver, as well as weaving together strands of silver wire.

The semicircular front of the tiara consists of over 300 pheonix tree flowers (Paulownia tomentosa), decorated with silver fans and pheonixes.

There are engraved designs of flying dragons, pheonixes, fish, dragonflies, swans, and butterflies around the headband of the tiara.

There are tassels in front, and pheonix-tail-like ribbons in back. The entire design memorializes the Miao's ancestors while anticipating a future of happiness and prosperity.

Woman’s Bamboo Slice Hat with Grass Beads and Bubble-Shaped SilverOriginal Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

This is a traditional Hani hat. The hat is decorated with silver baubles, coins, beads and tassels.

Girls begin to wear this type of hat after their coming-of-age ceremony, showing that she is an adult and available for marriage.

Man's Rattan Plaited Hamlet Over Bear Fur HatOriginal Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

The Lhoba men wear helmet-like hats either made from bearskin, woven bamboo or rattan laced with bearskin. The back of the hat is decorated with a piece of bearskin to frighten predators that may attack from behind.

Embroidered Doppa Cap Decorated with Strings of BeadsOriginal Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

This embroidered cap is a "Doppa" is worn by Uygur women. It is made of aubergine velvet and lined with black flannel.

The four sides are embroidered with designs using strings of ivory beads. This cap was given as a gift to Chairman Mao by a group of Uygurs visiting Beijing from Xinjiang to celebrate National Day in 1956.

Leather Hat Made of Roe Deer Head SkinOriginal Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

This traditonal Oroqen hat. The hat was made by skinning the entire head of a Siberian roe deer (Capreolus pygargus) replacing the eyes with artificial ones, and molding it to fit the wearer's head. The brim of the hat is lined with fur can be turned down to protect the wearer's ears. This type was originally intended as a disguise while hunting.

Cockscomb-shaped Blue Cloth Hat Decorated with Silver BeadsOriginal Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

This is a traditional hat for Yi women. The hat, shaped like a rooster's comb, is made of blue cloth decorated with silver balls. Cockscomb-shaped hats like this one were popular in Yuanjiang, Honghe, Yuxi, Chuxiong County in Yunnan province.

The design symbolizes happiness for the Yi girls and that they will be protected by the spirit of the rooster. This comes from a legend that evil spirits are afraid of the crowing of a rooster. The silver balls represent the stars and the moon, symbolizing light and happiness.

Leather Hat with ButtonsOriginal Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

This hat is shaped like a bowl. The inside is made of rattan, while the outside is fur, with buttons for decoration.

Horn-shaped Silver Headwear with Butterfly, Dragon, and Phoenix DesignsOriginal Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

This is a silver hair ornament, which is made first by casting, then by hammering and finally engraving very thin sheets of silver.

It is mounted on a silver tiara to complete the outfit worn by Miao women during important festivals.

Face-covering Silver OrnamentOriginal Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

These are examples of traditional Yi jewlery. They are made of silver and would have been worn by a bride as a veil during her wedding.

Carved Human-figured Bone HairpinOriginal Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

These hairpins are made of cow bone, engraved with single or double human figures, whose heads are made to resemble the hats worn by officials in ancient times. This scuplted human figure is treated as an idol representing the forefather and tribal leader of the Li people.

Below the figure, there are engraved designs depicting animals, flowers, and geometric patterns. Hairpins like these were worn for festivals when women visit their relatives and friends, or participate in parties, and demonstrate respect and remembrance of their forefathers.

Triangle-shaped Ornamental Headgear Decorated with CoralsOriginal Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

This is Tibetan head ornament called a "Pahchu," meaning "crown of beads". Variations of the pahchu are popular throughout Tibet. The frame is usually made of wool or cloth, and then decorated with pearls, agate, coral, or turquoise.

The most precious pahchu are the ones covered with pearls, followed by those covered with the coral. In the past, pahchu were used to signify social hierachies: only hereditary noble women could wear pearl pahchu, while ordinary noble women wore coral ones.

Engraved Silver Head Ring and Silver Hair Pin Inlaid with CoralOriginal Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

These silver head ornaments would have been worn by Buryat Mongol women once they married. The head ring is made of 3cm silver strips, lined with cloth, and decorated with ornamental engravings.

The hair pin is about 40 cm long, held together by silver braids decorated with coral inlays. The head ring would be worn first, then the hair pin would be afixed to both sides held in place by the woman's braids.

Silver Wooden Comb with Inlaid Floral PatternsOriginal Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

Human-figured Wooden CombOriginal Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

The handle of this comb is carved with the image of a woman,with snakes on both sides and decorated with geometrical paterns.

From the Qing dynasty to the Republican period, worships of the ancestors, fertility gods and totems were still popular among ethnic minorities of Taiwan. The woman with the the snakes on this comb is one such totemeic figure.

Silver CombOriginal Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

This silver comb of Li people is decorated with pieces of bone, on which floral designs are appliqued.

Silver Hair TrayOriginal Source: http://bwg.muc.edu.cn/

This headdress is from the Chashan branch of the Yao. They are so named because lived by planting tea. This headdress is composed of three pieces of silver, each of them 8cm wide, 33cm long, and 13cm high. It represents a sharp sword that can kill invaders.

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