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The clothing of the Jiulie people consist of over 30 diffrent styles, ranging from their dialects, province and culture influences. The common clothing style are White, Green, Black, Red, Flower and Striped.

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HistoryEdit

If you live without a written language, how do you tell the world who you are? Writing with


Thread: Traditional Textiles of Southwest Chinese Minorities, through August 16, 2009, at the Museum of International Folk Art in Santa Fe, is a spectacular exhibition based on the premise that clothing can talk: of ancestors and spirits and creation myths, wealth and tribal identity, even the artistic prowess of the young women who created the ceremonial costumes. The show, representing fifteen ethnic groups and nearly one hundred subgroups in China, consists of ensembles for women, men and children, including a shaman or two and a warrior’s lacquered rawhide armor, displayed along with baby carriers, aprons, bed covers, and other household textiles. They fairly burst with evocative and powerful stories, expressed through a visual fireworks of needlecraft in silk, cotton, hemp and wool that have an eloquence beyond words.
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The colors of Hmong clothings

The more than five hundred objects, spanning the 1980s to the late nineteenth century, were culled from a massive collection of ten thousand pieces assembled over twenty years by Huang Ying Feng, founder of the Evergrand Art Museum in Taoyuan, Taiwan. Huang is an astute, thoughtful archivist: he gathered complete-down-to-the-shoes ensembles, in beautiful condition, many of which are elaborately complicated to put together. He researched when and why they were worn, and the significance of patterns and motifs. Though every woman is taught to sew beginning around the age of four, she may still have her mother’s and her grandmother’s clothes. Huang’s foresight in collecting the older clothing was a chance to chronicle a living culture and society in the midst of accelerating change. By about 1950, judging from the dates in the exhibit, many men stopped wearing everyday traditional clothing. Now, of course, the exodus of young girls leaving to work in factories threatens all the textile arts. The material is arranged regionally by province, then further broken down by township or village. Despite the diversity of the peoples included, the textiles are almost uniformly indigo-blue cotton with red embroidery, accessorized with silver embellishments, headdresses and jewelry. There the resemblance ends. With a passion and robustness almost unknown to Westerners, these farming women in isolated mountain communities unleash an unbelievable panoply of precise and delicately wrought embroidery techniques distinctive to each group. Mostly intended for festival wear, their finery packs a wallop. This is unabashed glamour and gorgeousness, exquisitely handmade, with an attention to detail that gives you goosebumps.


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The majority belong to the Miao people, who in turn have their own graphic group names: Big Flower Miao, Long Horn Miao, White Miao (who use more white than indigo fabric). The rarest minority objects are from the Gelao people; the most practical and hardy, from the Yi. A Yi man would wear his all-enveloping natural lambskin cape for his lifetime, then be cremated in it. The most defiantly plain, by comparison, is also impressive: the Miao women from Raojia township layer five upper garments in successive flared tiers, made to look crisp and shiny by calendaring (pounding the fabric with egg white or animal blood).

One pièce-de-résistance ensemble is worn by a Dong musician for the Lusheng festival. Elvis would not dare have aspired to such opulence. Just reciting the different techniques that go into sewing the ensemble sounds prodigious. Appliqué with embroidery in couched silk-wrapped horsehair and flat, chain and flat silver-foil stitching densely cover the shoulders, upper sleeves and back of the lime-green silk satin jacket. The skirt, in vertical strips attached to a waistband, is embroidered with Dong ancestral imagery in flat and chain stitches outlined with couched gold-foil wrapped thread and piped with wax-resist indigo-dyed cloth. Indigo-dyed pants go under leggings with silk appliqué and embroidery of dragons and abstract crawling snakes (a totemic icon of the Dong).



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The richness of the imagery alone, spread across all the tribal groups, tells not only of enormous skill and imagination, but conveys almost all the important belief systems. Take the Li Bendi people, from Hainan Island. Renowned among the Li for their strong artistic tradition, the Li Bendi motifs depict ancestors, temples, frogs, waves, deer, forests, and even stars (tiny mica chips) in a night sky. The themes attached to these motifs are universal: fertility and regeneration, the protection of ancestors and spirits. Among the Miao, though, another more poignant theme persists: the memory of lost homelands. Repeated waves of Han Chinese migration forced the Miao far from their native country. They remember the landscape, even the rivers they crossed in their flight, in their clothing. One fairly simple Miao outer vest, circa 1940, from Guizhou shows a layout of sets of double crosses embroidered in brown and gold silk. They represent the memory of the plans of their ancient cities in the east.

The richness of the imagery alone, spread across all the tribal groups, tells not only of enormous skill and imagination, but conveys almost all the important belief systems. Take the Li Bendi people, from Hainan Island. Renowned among the Li for their strong artistic tradition, the Li Bendi motifs depict ancestors, temples, frogs, waves, deer, forests, and even stars (tiny mica chips) in a night sky. The themes attached to these motifs are universal: fertility and regeneration, the protection of ancestors and spirits. Among the Miao, though, another more poignant theme persists: the memory of lost homelands. Repeated waves of Han Chinese migration forced the Miao far from their native country. They remember the landscape, even the rivers they crossed in their flight, in their clothing. One fairly simple Miao outer vest, circa 1940, from Guizhou shows a layout of sets of double crosses embroidered in brown and gold silk. They represent the memory of the plans of their ancient cities in the east.

Writing with thread3


Other Miao subgroups favor more abstract geometric motifs. Again, the theme of the Miao’s own homelands endures, rendered in a woman’s ensemble from Guanxi that features ranks of red crosses across the front of a long tunic top. The ensemble, a feat of minute cross-stitch and counted thread embroidery, harmonizes with the wax-resist dyed cotton ground. A voluminously pleated skirt boasts even more intricate work. Elsewhere, proximity to the ruling culture left some traces. The strongest influence from the Han and Manchu appears in the shape of wide-sleeved loose tops and front-panel skirts, and in ornamentation. But the surprise of the exhibit is how the Chinese are largely absent. The geographic remoteness of these tribal peoples has helped keep their cultures intact so far.

The only quibble with Writing with Thread is in the signage. A numbering system would have helped figure out which ensemble belongs with which descriptive placard placed on rails in front of the vignettes. But the show is a triumph, worth repeated visits. It pays timely tribute to magnificent textile masterpieces with much to tell us.


ModernEdit

CHINA-FASHION-3 1226078414 9765
Miaotomilan

From Miao to Milan

Embroidered shoes, pleated batik skirts, shining silver accessories of the Miao minority - these are the exotic Chinese flavors that will pervade the Paris fashion trade fair, which begins in the world's fashion capital today.

Zhang Zhifeng, art director of NE Tiger Clothing Company, is one such example. The veteran designer wants to build NE Tiger as an international luxury brand in China - in the same league as Louis Vitton and Armani.

Zhang has explored the use of Chinese Yunjin, the special brocade once reserved for royalty, in his collections. He adopts the traditional "seamless" weaving method in his haute couture fabrics, once used exclusively for the brocade dragon robe of the emperors. Exquisite handmade Chinese embroideries of the phoenix and peony are also widely used. As the making of the brocade and the embroideries are extremely time-consuming and complicated, it usually takes Zhang and his skilled craftsmen months to make one suit, with the price hovering in the region of 50,000 yuan ($6,756).


His collections feature a harmonious combination of traditional culture and modern fashion elements. He includes Western fashion inspirations and solid cutting techniques into his designs and applies georgette, damask, Italian baldachin, lace and Swarovski crystals to Chinese silk and brocade to redefine the Western gown, corsage, pleat skirt and fish skirt.