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Shining Costumes of Miao Ethnic Group
The Miao ethnic minority mainly live in the border areas of the provinces of southwest China. They have their own language. In the areas of the Miao ethnic minority, they take farming as the main work and hunting as the supplementary. Their cross-stitch work, embroidery, brocade, batik, paper-cut and handmade ornaments, etc., are world-famous for their elegant techniques. The headwear of the Miao ethnic minority is all made of silver, with many varieties.
Their headwear includes silver horn, silver fan, silver cap, silver kerchief, silver fluttering headwear, silver hairpin, silver pin, silver head flower, silver network chain, silver comb, silver earring, silver bonnet ornament and so on.
The silver horn is branched on top, whose major pattern is usually two dragons playing with a ball. Both the dragons and the ball are raised patterns, about one centimeter above the base surface. Girls will put some chick feathers on the two ends of the silver horn, and the chick feathers wavering in wind will make the silver horn look much lofty and have a sense of fleeting beauty as well.
The silver cap is a headwear of the Miao ethnic minority for dressing up. It is made from numerous silver flowers and silver bells containing various kinds of patterns such as birds, butterflies and animals, giving an impression of pearls and jade all over the head, so elegant and magnificent.
The Miao sew five pieces of silver ornament on a red-green striped kerchief. The middle one is bigger and placed on the forehead; and the other four are smaller and placed before and after the ears; all of them are hollowed-out silver flowers. The flickering silver and the flowery colors of the cloth bring out the best in each other, showing a unique feature.
The silver hair clasp of the Miao ethnic minority falls into many designs, and most of them take flowers, birds or butterflies as the theme. Even the same theme of flower may vary in shape: it may be a single-lobed or double-lobed flower, a bunch or a bundle, dense or sparse, and may be in various models and sizes. As far as the style is concerned, some are fine, slim and delicately beautiful, and some are full of classical beauty of simplicity and heaviness.
The Miao people have various ways to wear the silver pin. The silver pin of the Miaos in Longli City is formed by three silver balls, and on each ball hangs three silver bells. The whole pin is inserted behind the bun. That of the Miao in Shidong City is in the shape of a dragonhead in various sizes. The big ones are used for festivals, and small ones are used in daily life. It is inserted horizontally all through the top bun, with a section of the clasp protruding in sidelong, looking very conspicuous.
Silver Network Chain
The silver network chain is a kind of hair clasp. The typical one is the five-stranded net chain, fixed by the pin. The five strands of silver chain are like a net spreading out, covering the hair bun.
The silver comb is both a tool to comb and press the hair and an adornment. It is usually made of wood, covered with silver skin except for the comb dents, on the back are various decorative silver patterns. Its modeling may be complicated or simple. The silver comb is full of elegant patterns such as flowers, birds, dragon, deer and so on.
The silver earring is the richest branch of the silver ornament family of the Miao ethnic minority: in the incomplete collection in the Museum of Guizhou Province alone, there are nearly one hundred kinds. There are four types of earrings, namely the suspending type, the circle type, the hook type and the wheel type. Most of them belong to the suspending type and the circle type. In modeling of the earrings of the Miao, there are some other patterns besides commonly seen flowers, birds, butterflies and dragon.
Silver Bonnet Ornaments
The Miao people regard silver as a thing to avoid evil spirits, so those living around the Qingshui River have a custom of decorating their children with silver. The silver ornament is usually nailed on the bonnet. In the traditional modeling of the bonnet ornaments, you can often see a lion, a fish or a butterfly; some have Chinese characters because of the influence of the Han culture, such as "Fu Lu Shou Xi(respectively mean prosperity, high position, longevity and happiness), "Changming Fugui(longevity with wealth and honor)", and so on.