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Miao woman's costume


AOA 1998.As1.coll

Africa, Oceania, Americas


    Miao woman's costume

    Miao, 20th century AD
    From Guizhou province, China

    The Miao are a minority group living in the mountains that straddle the borders of China, Laos, Thailand, Cambodia and Vietnam (where they are known as Hmong). The Miao have striking costumes made from plain indigo-dyed cloth that is decorated with embroidery, batik and appliqué techniques, which is further enhanced with elaborate silver jewellery and headdresses. While some techniques are more difficult to master, embroidery is a skill which young girls learn early on and an activity which they turn to whenever their hands are free from other tasks. Miao costumes are distinguished by regional styles. This example comes from south-central Guizhou province in south-west China.

    Miao women in China have often replaced the tightly pleated skirt with trousers for everyday use. The style of costumes continue to be adapted, with the increasing use of synthetic yarns, plastic beads, imported head scarves and trainers. The resurgence of festivals and the attractiveness of the markets, which bring together many national minorities of the area, have drawn many tourists to south-west China. As a result, the textiles, which were always an indication of ethnicity, gender and social status, have also become a source of cash income for the Miao.


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