The Costumes of the Miao People

One of the special folk arts of the Miao people is their bright costumes. These are mostly made by women through spinning, weaving, cross-stitching, brocading, wax printing, and sewing. They are divided into everyday clothes and holiday best. For these special occasions, the women all wear silver decorations and present a truly dazzling appearance.

In the costumes of these minorities, men's dresses are simple while women's are bustling. Men's dresses are divided into two types: symmetrical short gowns and left-buttoned long gowns. Young and mid-aged males mainly wear symmetrical short gowns while old males wear long gowns. Their heads are wrapped with black long cloth. Trousers are usually of wide bottom. Women's dresses are divided into right-buttoned short gowns and front-crossed gowns, each having various kinds of common costumes and holiday best. There are man differences of costumes among the Miao women: in some areas women wear long pleated skirts, in some areas women wear short pleated skirts, in some areas women wrap their head with triangle towels and in some areas women twine their hair with hairpins.

The silver ornaments worn by the Miao girls are quite heavy. Well dressed-up girls at Miao's New Years wait to show their performance to visitors.
Even with the technology of the 21st century available, the women prefer to make their finest clothes by hand. Because of the complicated process, this usually takes three to five years. Most high quality costumes are integrated with fine silver to make them even more bright and attractive. Because of the time and money going into them, a set of this handmade clothing is an artistic treasure costing from 1,000 to 10,000 yuan.

The minority group's silver jewelry is made using traditional techniques passed down from generation to generation. The patterns, styles, and figures are quite different from place to place. Men's silver decorations include such designs as: head flowers, neck-rings, bracelets, necklaces, and cigarette cases, etc. The women's are more delicate and include: crowns, flowers, hair clasps, combs, hair-pins, earrings, ear pendants, chains, locks, shawls, bracelets, bells, etc. One set of silver jewelry may weigh more than 10 kilograms (22 pounds). The Miaos are really literally a dazzling people!

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