Monogamous families have been the basic social cells of the Bais, with a very few people who practiced polygamy. Parents live with their unmarried children, but only in big landlord families did four generations live together.
Bai children are given a lot of attention when they are young. You can see many contented babies in beautiful carriers in Bai Tribe. The carriers are padded with a layer of horse hair and quilted felt. The ties are crisscrossed in front and tied around the mother’s waist to secure the baby.
Bai embroidered baby-carrier
Bai women hope for a daughter to help with domestic work. Before she gives birth, a woman’s parents will send “delivery-hastening” food to her, which always includes a boiled egg with a needle in it. When eating the egg, the women will first see whether the needle is pointing up or down. An upward-pointing needle heralds the arrival of a boy, while the converse hints to the birth of a girl. If the first born baby is a girl, she is thought to bring happiness to her parents and the whole family.
If the first born baby is a girl, she is carried in an embroidered baby carrier called a guobei, which is unique to the Bai nationality. The epaulet of the guobei is usually made of black flannel with embroidered peony flowers in the center and plum blossom and chrysanthemum on both sides, all surrounded by dancing butterflies and a phoenix above and lotus with green leaves, magpies, animals, and flowers at the bottom.
The lower part is usually made of white cloth with patterns of balls pieced together from cloth strips. The tie braces are embroidered to match the entire bright color of the guobei. This guobei is said to not only protect the women’s waist and belly, but also make the baby free and comfortable on the adult’s back, where she cannot interrupt the work of her mother. The Bai people believe that flowers are symbol of happiness and auspiciousness and hope girls are as pure and pretty as flowers, so many names are connected with flowers. Jinhua (golden flower) means the girl is as precious as gold. Today, the name Jinhua is recognized as a Bai name, because it has come to symbolize the good nature of Bai women. The life of Bai women is a struggle to create a life as beautiful as flowers.
by Xiao Xiao @ InteractChina.com
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