British Museum collections, £12.99
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,
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.