Miao Hmong festival costumes are worn at festivals and sacrificial rituals or at weddings. The wedding dresses are also called “floral dresses”.
Miao Festival Costume Full of National Flavors
Blazing with colors, Miao Hmong festival clothes are full of nation flavors. Red, blue, yellow, white, and black are the main colors used in Miao Hmong clothing. The Miao Hmong people normally use white gunny, cotton or silk as fabric. The making of the festival costume include dyeing, wax printing and ingenuous embroidery. In addition, bright and shining silver ornaments are embedded in the dresses. With extraordinary silver ornaments, like big silver headdress, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings to match these clothes, Miao Hmong women proudly claim they are the most beautiful women in the world.
Motifs on the Festival Costumes
The motifs on the festival costumes are mostly living creatures in real life. For example, the “Miao Hundred Bird Jacket”, originally worn on major ceremonies to worship ancestors, is now festival attire. The jacket is big and loose with no collar. Hundred of birds and dragons are embroidered on the jacket. It is made with 7 to 10 strips of bands of embroidered motifs of frogs, dragons, birds, butterflies and insects, symbols of the Miao’s mystic culture. These elaborate motifs are in a wide range of colors and have strong ideographic expression in nation, clan and language identification.
Festival Jacket and Skirt
During festivals, weddings and important ceremonies, Miao Hmong women usually wear a short jacket with beautifully embroidered patterns on the sleeves, shoulders, and collar. In some areas, they have silver ornaments and silver bells sewn onto the jacket and they call it a “silver jacket”.
Some Miao Hmong women wear long skirts which extend to their feet, and some wear short skirts which only arrive at their knees. Their beautiful pleated skirts have as many as 40 layers with over 500 pleats.
On top of the skirts, they wear embroidered apron dropping down to the knees or feet. At the edge of the apron, there are four or five long embroidered bands like a peacock’s plumage. Under the skirts, they wear leggings to match with their embroidered shoes.
Festival costumes of the Miao Hmong are a precious element of Chinese ethnic arts and crafts and have high artistic and cultural values. The exquisiteness of the Miao Hmong clothes has put the Miao Hmong at the top of the 56 ethnic groups of China in terms of artistic standards.
by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com
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