Costume

Handmade Shoe Insoles

Handmade shoe insoles are a tradition for young Chinese women and girls. They make them for their husbands, family, and themselves. If someone makes very beautiful ones, she is very admired in her village.

They are made by sewing layer upon layer of cloth together, to give them body. Then they are hand embroidered to make them beautiful. Most pictures embroidered on insoles may use partial tones in Chinese to indicate good luck and blessing.

Hundred Family Jacket  
 

In some parts of China, an old tradition still exists. Chinese parents believe that their children can have a healthy and bright future if they can receive blessings from many people, so there is a tradition of eating hundred-family meal and dressing the babies hundred-family jacket.

When a woman is to give birth she and her own mother begin to collect 100 pieces of fabric to fashion a baby jacket called a biao jiao yi ---one hundred family jacket to bestow love and blessings on the new born child.

The picture here shows a waistcoat with fabric of different colors and textures, in a rustic and simple sytle. The tradition of hundred-family jacket is quite poplular in north China's Shaanxi, Shanxi, Gansu, Hebei, Henan, and Shandong. It also exists in some southern regions.


Clothing of Bai Ethnic Minority Group  
 

There are 20 ethnic minorities living in Yunnan province in southwest China. Most of them are good at embroidery. They use different methods to weave either simple or complicated patterns. The weaving skill originated as early as 2000 or 3000 years ago and is still prevalent.

The ethnic Bai people in Dali like to weave pattern of flowers. Patterns can be seen on scarf, waist pad or shoes, etc. The picture shows a common cloth of a Bai woman, with the white headdress, long tassel and a red hair string to show her unmarried status. She wears a purple coat with silver buttons and a blue front-buttoned jacket of Chinese style. There are embroideries on the waistband of the skirt. The clothing is simple.

Long-life Lock  
 

Long-life lock used to be a decoration worn by children as a symbol of luck and auspiciousness. It was made of silver and hanged around the neck. In the past, it was a custom that when children were one month old, relatives and family members gave a lock to him or her as a gift and the lock wouldn't be taken off until the children got married.

In the past, many children died because of poor medical and economic conditions. Parents worshipped the god wishing the children not to die. The long-life lock was used as a symbol to keep off the evils. It usually bore some patterns.

In the picture, the long-life lock bears the character of being rich. Below the character was a picture of a story in the Three Kingdom period (220-280 A.D.). There are patterns signifying longevity and richness. The patterns are well organized and the figures are taken from stage stories.

 Indigo Blue Calico  
 

Indigo blue calico was a frequently used cotton dress material in areas south of the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. It uses indigo to paint on cotton woven by local rural people themselves. Such clothing was widely used in people's daily lives.

The cloth in the picture is a collection by Shanghai Printed Calico Museum. It has a lot of patterns, such as peony, peach, etc. It is a typical wear for local rural women.

As time goes by, some young women and foreigners tend to use it as a decoration in their houses.

 

 

Chest Cloth  
 

The chest cloth is usually a piece of cloth worn over the chest and abdomen. It might be in rectangular, square or half round shaped. There are patterns woven on it. They are peony, magpie, folk legend or custom, etc. The chest cloth in the picture is embroidered with figures and stories and has the color of red and green. The figures in the pattern are innocent and artless and the flower patterns are simple.

Embroidery of Miao Ethnic Minority Group 

A lot of Miao people live in southwest China's Guizhou province. They have many types of clothing, which are basically divided into being casual or formal. Both the clothing and head ornaments have a lot of handicraft work. The subject matters also differ, dragon, bird, fish, drum, flower, butterfly, or historic stories. The apron in the picture has a lot of embroidered patterns on it.

Among the Miao embroideries, the pattern of dragon frequently appears. The picture shows the pattern on the cuff of a sleeve. Apart from dragon, there are butterflies, bird, people, etc. Sometimes the patterns are exaggerated and the colors used are black, white, red or green.

Shanxi Linfen Embroidery 

In the countryside of Linfen at north China's Shanxi province, people often embroider patterns on their clothing or on their daily necessities. Most of the drawings symbolize luck and auspiciousness. Such as peony, longevity, happiness, etc. Sometimes they also take theme on stories.

The picture shows double dragons playing with a pearl. The colors used are bright and contrastable.

Stuffed Pouch 
 

Stuffed pouch is a small ornament for people to carry with. Filled with traditional Chinese medicine ingredients, it varies in patterns and people take it on the fifth day of the fifth Lunar month to ward off the so-called evils. It is also said to be healthful. There are different stuffed pouches. Some are like pyramids while others are like peach or bat. All of these express the meaning of luck and auspiciousness.

The stuffed pouch in the picture is woven into a toad surrounded by twelve animals representing the twelve Earthly branches. In legend, toad has something to do with the moon and the twelve animals are all said to represent luck. The pouch in the picture is well organized with delicate embroidery in bright red.

 

Clothing Style for Yao Ethnic Minority Group 
 

The Yao ethnic minority group lives in south China. They have sixty to seventy different types of clothing. In Guangxi, all people wear the same type of cloth regardless of their age.

 The cloth in the picture is typical. As one can see, there are lot of patterns on the part of the waist and legs. Three kinds of patterns are frequently used. One is the Chinese character of "people"placed one by one. The second one is patterns woven with fourteen stitches. The third one is complicated patterns such as diamonds or strips. It requires patience to weave these patterns, which show local women's skillfulness.