Chinese Ethnic Minority Satchels – Part One

China has 56 ethnic groups distributed across a vast land of 9.6 million square km — each with its own special costumes. However, most Chinese ethnic minorities share the custom of wearing satchels. As a part of their costumes, satchels display different living habits and the craftsmanship of these groups.

Dai Ethnic Minority

 
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The satchel, called the “Tong pa” in the Dai language, is a practical craftwork adored by the Dai people, for both women and men, young and old. During country fairs, nearly all Dai fellows in the marketplace wear a satchel. The elderly use satchels to hold cigarettes, betel nuts and some sundries, while the young wear them mostly for decorative purposes or to send it to their loved ones. A small bag is usually installed in an interlayer in the satchel to store cash and other valuables.

Satchels worn by the Dai people are mainly made of cotton-woven Dai brocade and feature beautiful hues and rich patterns. Common patterns include auspicious shapes, such as elephant feet, tortoise shells, bats and so on; realistic ones, such as patterns of peacocks, bajiao banana flowers, horses, legendary animals, golden pheasants, lotuses, butterflies and so on; as well as signs, such as auspicious characters and religious symbols. These patterns are not only decorative but also express good wishes.

Miao Ethnic Minority

 
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The Miao people have been famous for their accomplishments in weaving the “five-color cloth” since ancient times and for the Miao brocade and wax printing. The Miao ethnic minority inYunnan Province comprises many groups and is distinguished by its costumes, such as the Red Miao, White Miao, Black Miao, Blue Miao, Big Flowery Miao, etc. Satchels, as an attachment to costumes, should complement the costumes. Therefore, different groups of the Miao people wear satchels of various styles.

The Miao culture and history have been passed down by word of mouth or symbols. As an artistic language of symbols, the patterns on Miao brocades contain many traditional contents from the ethnic minority and recite numerous legends, tales and ancient stories. Therefore, just like costumes of the Miao people, their satchels not only feature a distinctive aesthetic significance, but also carry rich cultural connotations.

Zhuang Ethnic Minority

 
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Folk brocade of the Zhuang people has been famous for a long time and their embroidery is also very unique. One can experience the Zhuang people’s deft embroidery skills from their satchels.

“Nine Dragon s playing with a Ball” is a common subject in the Zhuang brocade patterns. Other brocade patterns on satchels include butterflies, bats, the sun and the moon, flowers and other auspicious elements.

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 2000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.

P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

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Hairpins in Chinese Culture

 
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Hairpins are an important symbol in Chinese culture. In ancient China, hairpins were worn by all genders, and they were essential items for everyday hairstyling, mainly for securing and decorating a hair bun. Furthermore, hairpins worn by women could also represent their social status.

 
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In Han Chinese culture, when young girls reached the age of fifteen, they were allowed to take part in a rite of passage known as “Ji Li”, or “hairpin initiation” . This ceremony marks the coming of age of young women. Particularly, before the age of fifteen, girls did not use hairpins as they wore their hair in braids, and they were considered as children. When they turned fifteen, they could be considered as young women after the ceremony, and they started to style their hair as buns secured and embellished by hairpins. This practice indicated these young women may now enter into marriage. However, if a young woman hadn’t been consented to marriage before age twenty, or she hadn’t yet participated in a coming of age ceremony, she must attend a ceremony when she turned twenty.

 
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In comparison with “Ji Li”, the male equivalent known as “guan li” or “hat initiation”, usually took place five years later, at the age of twenty. In the 21st century Hanfu Movement, an attempt to revive the traditional Han Chinese coming-of-age ceremonies has been made, and the ideal age to attend the ceremony is twenty years old for all genders.

 
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While hairpins can symbolize the transition from childhood to adulthood, they were closely connected to the concept of marriage as well. At the time of an engagement, the fiancée may take a hairpin from her hair and give it to her fiancé as a pledge: this can be seen as a reversal of the Western tradition, such as the future groom presents an engagement ring to his betrothed. After the wedding ceremony, the husband should put the hairpin back into his spouse’s hair.

 
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Hair has always carried many psychological, philosophical, romantic, and cultural meanings in Chinese culture. In Han ethnicity, people call the union between two people “jie-fa”, literally means “tying hair”. During the wedding ceremony, some Chinese couples exchange a lock of hair as a pledge, while others break a hairpin into two parts, and then, each of the betrothed take one part with them for keeping. If this couple ever get separated in the future, when they reunite, they can piece the two halves together, and this completed hairpin will serve as a proof of their identities as well as a symbol of their reunion. In addition, a married heterosexual couple is sometimes referred to as “jie-fa fu-qi”, an idiom which implies the relationship between the pair is very intimate and happy, just like how their hair has been tied together.

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 2000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.

P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Women’s Fashion in Tang Dynasty of China

Chinese actress Fan Bingbing’s latest television drama, The Empress of China, has been getting a lot of attention, but not in the way the producers originally hoped.

A still shot from Fan Bingbing’s latest television series The Empress of China.
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The story, based on the life of China’s first and only female empress, Wu Zetian of the TangDynasty (618-907 AD), was removed from the air after its debut in December due to revealing costumes that emphasized the cleavage of the female characters.

When it returned to the small screen in January, scenes showing the revealing necklines were cut off and replaced by somewhat magnified shots of the actress’ heads.

This move by China’s media watch dog failed to win support among viewers. The majority of them called the cut “unnecessary” as the costumes in the show only resembled what women truly wore during the Tang Dynasty.

So, what was fashion in the Tang Dynasty really like?

Skirt, shirt and a cape

A ceramic figurine of a woman of Tang Dynasty.
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According to Li Hong, researcher and vice curator at the Henan Museum, skirts, dresses and capes were three major elements in women’s fashion during the Tang Dynasty.

“From historical records, these three items were indispensible for women back then.Women of Tang, regardless of class, also put more thoughts into dressing themselves than we do today.

“Waiting several years for a piece of new clothing to be made was normal. That’s how much people cared about the way they dressed back then,” Li said. As for the exquisite costumes worn in The Empress of China, Li said the costume designers obviously “did their homework”.

The shirt

A ceramic figurine of a woman of Tang Dynasty.
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Women in the Tang Dynasty often wore long sleeved shirts with narrowing cuffs. As China gained more influence from the West, the width of the sleeves widened, reaching as wide as four Chinese chi, or nearly 130 cm. The collars varied in shapes and sizes, from straight,crossed and round to other possibilities. It was revealing, but not to the extent shown in The Empress of China.

The cape

A painting shows the dress style of women in Tang Dynasty.
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Capes in the Tang Dynasty were often made with lightweight yarn or silk, and took on the role that a shawl or scarf would do in today’s world. Women often wrapped them around their neck and shoulders, exposing a certain amount of skin, but not too much.

The skirt

Women in the Tang Dynasty always wore skirts, mostly very high at the waist, sometimes even up to the armpits. This was a way to visually elongate the legs.

Hair and makeup

Steps on how women in the Tang Dynasty applied their makeup.
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Aside from dress, women in the Tang Dynasty also worked hard on doing their makeup. Applying makeup would consist of (at the very least) the following steps:

  1. Apply lead powder (to keep the skin pale as fair skin were regarded as beautiful)

  2. Apply blusher

  3. Draw eyebrows

  4. Apply a flower like pattern in between the brows

  5. Draw two dots on either side of the mouth

  6. Draw a red curved line beside the eyes

  7. Apply lipstick

Women in the Tang Dynasty preferred brightly colored dresses, as surprisingly as it may seem, the trend was to keep the face as simple as possible.

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

We co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 2000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.

P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Chinese fashion struts to the West

Hermès, Louis Vuitton, Prada, Chanel, even people who are not interested in buying luxury products can name a few brands and recognize their logos in China now. Chinese consumers have become so powerful and obsessed with luxury items that many of the brands view the Chinese market as a cash cow. However, luxury fashion lovers elsewhere in the world may not be familiar with any Chinese brands.

Though not widely recognized, some domestic luxury brands are seeing healthy growth and showing potential to become well-known luxury lines.

Hong Huang, creator of Brand New China (a business dedicated to promoting local designers), wrote in her blog earlier this week that in the past decades, Chinese aesthetics and values used to be at the edge of mainstream fashion. But as brands like Exception de Mixmind, Ziggy Chen, Chictopia and ZUCZUG have emerged, Chinese fashion has begun to make some noise.

Brands with potential

For most Chinese consumers just learning the “luxury” concept, the items they want and have become familiar with are fashion products. Clothes, shoes, bags, watches and jewelry are on most wish lists.

But designing and producing these items are not China’s strong suit. Due to differences in culture and custom, a typical list of luxury items in China is vastly different: liquor, tobacco, porcelain, furniture and tea. As a result, many firms that intend to create luxury fashion items fail to compete with brands from France and Italy and resort to copying their ideas.

 
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“I am not producing a Chinese Cartier but a jewelry brand that belongs to China and speaks an international language,” Wang Yunhe, president of Zhaoyi Jewelry, said on sina.com. Emerald with traditional Chinese handicrafts sounds a bit old-fashioned. But putting it into a modernized design and package can turn the “antique” into a fashionable luxury item with Chinese style. More importantly, it imbues the product with the Chinese culture of the emerald.

 
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Qeelin, also a jewelry brand, provides China with another possibility of selling luxury items to the world. Its approach is to open a store in Paris targeting the foreign market firstly and directly. After seeing so many top luxury brands’ stores in Paris, Chen Ruilin, the founder and designer of Qeelin, decided to become neighbors with them. Chen’s shop is decorated with a bit of Buddhist style and each item purchased is boxed in the shop’s signature look.

Shanghai Tang Store
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Franz Store
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These brands along with Shanghai Tang, born in Hong Kong and now has dozens of stores around the world; and Franz Collection, originally from Taiwan and now selling fine porcelain in 56 countries, are all examples of companies profiting from China’s well-established reputation for certain specialties.

However, as relative newcomers in the global luxury industry, Chinese brands are unable to speak of long-held traditions or legendary stories. Still there are ways to add a soul to the name.

Not built in a day

Wang Yuexin, editor-in-chief of Fashion Weekly told the Global Times that although there are a few relatively successful high-end Chinese brands in fashion, they are not on a scale to be qualified as “luxury brand,” especially in women’s and men’s wear. While Chinese names are appearing more often in international magazines as designers, and dresses worn by Chinese actresses are catching attention on the red carpets of the world, the fame and reputation of a person or a dress cannot represent an entire brand.

NE-Tiger
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Guo Pei’s Works
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Zhang Zhifeng’s NE-Tiger and Rose Studio by Guo Pei are the most famous Chinese fashion brands in the world; both started with haute couture but now also produce ready-to-wear items. Cathy Horyn from The New York Times has reported on Guo and highly praised her designs. However, the two brands are largely based on the designers’ personal reputations and have not become chain businesses like the best luxury brands in the global market.

Wang explained that many entrepreneurs and enterprises are aiming high but few have the resources and courage to achieve their goal. They understand building up a solid and reputable brand is not a one-day task. “The top luxury brands all started with a designer and developed for a century to turn a fashion studio into a real global business. Only time can solve many of the problems we have at the moment,” said Wang.

Cai Sujian, the president of China Luxury Institute, a Hong Kong registered association, said the difference between top Chinese fashion brands and the world-class luxury brands mainly exists in the brand content, taking into account its originality, popularity, quality of services and cultural meaning.

“It is why NE-Tiger and Rose Studio products keep pace with the world standard in terms of craft and quality, but the brand as a whole still keeps a distance,” said Cai.

Culture is key

In an article by Michel Gutsatz published in Forbes last year, Qeelin was described as a brand that successfully combines traditional Chinese culture with French techniques. He emphasized that this is an advantage of the brand management but does not necessary lead to a real luxury brand. And it’s the same for the rest of the Chinese high-end fashion brands.

“The soul of a brand and fashion industry is its culture. Without culture, great investments and extremely high prices do not define the brand as luxury,” said Wang.

Cai pointed out that a key issue here is that China does not have a clear modern culture. Modernism or postmodernism, contemporary culture in China is hugely influenced by the West so developing an original culture is at the issue’s core.

For Wang, the culture we are talking about does not necessarily refer to any symbolic figure: “China today is within the globalized context. As long as the products are designed and made in China, they represent China, with or without looking Chinese.”

(source http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/752675.shtml

 

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com

About Interact China


“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

We co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 2000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.

P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!