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Zhangjiajie Miao Costumes
The Miao Costume, which is just like a bright pearl in the national costumes, is extremely colorful and gorgeous. Its development has totally revealed the talents and wisdom of Miao people and brought new vigor and vitality into Miao culture, culture of ethnic minority and Chinese culture. In order to study the profound cultural deposits behind the Miao costume, at first we must have a brief research on its history.
Miao people have been perfecting their artworks by their diligence, wisdom and ingeniousness according to the different historical conditions, so there is always a huge change on their costume during the social revolution.
We can learn that Miao people used the fruits having five colors as dye to decorate their clothes with leaves, barks, Montana and so on, for against cold, hiding nakedness and decoration from the Eastern Han Dynasty to Tang and Song Dynasty. That’s called “wu se yi”. During the era of Yuan, Ming and Qing Dynasty, with the development of social economy and changes of living conditions, most of Miao people made clothes with figured silk, cotton prints and so on. Rich people tailored clothes with silver while the poor did it with wood. Well, we also can know that they followed the tradition of using five colors. Their belts were red, so they were called “Hong Miao”. Women were asked to foot-bind. Tonsuring and foot-binding were widely spread in the Miao people of Xiang Xi under the Qing government, which contributed to the new changes of Miao Costume. With the ideological emancipation during the Republic of China, the Miao Costume began to blend the elements of Han. Men always used black belts and bind their feet with dark blue cloth. Furthermore, women’s trousers were a little bit short and the bottom of trousers which embroidered many beautiful flowers was very loose.
After the establishment of The People’s Republic of China, the development of nation’s economy has contributed to the Miao costume’s new breakthrough. There was no foot-binding any more. There are so many special and spectacular designs in every detail. The color, pattern and designs are extremely diversified and ingenious. The materials were changed from rough linen to modern cloth or silks, which made it lighter and more colorful. Because it’s more convenient to utilize the light industrial products, people prefer to choose all kinds of silks. Meanwhile, under the modern products’ severe impact, the traditional homespun craft was endangered. Anyway, there in no doubt that Miao Costume not only keeps its own features but draw upon the strengths of other ethnics to form the splendid and vigorous culture.
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Miao silver
Since all of us know that Miao Costumes are extremely bright-colored, we could also study its abundant educational implication through its decorative patterns.
There are a lot of different patterns on the Miao Costumes. Even one of those animals, dragon has included many different species painted on the Costumes, like Pterosaur, Aitvaras, Futabasaurus, Pelycosaur, Oudenodon, Doublecross, The centipede dragon and so on. Another unique pattern is geometric shape. Their shapes are usually like winding rivers, stars, blue seeds, flower’s heart, house’s frame, tiger’s claw, dog’s claw, spiders, coins, and so on. Common geometric shapes contain cross, rhombus, V-type, foursquare, S-type, ellipse and so on. It is said that the square array means the ancestor’s houses and the red cloth in the square indicates fish. Geometric shape, one of the patterns, shows human’s admiration to nature. Miao people build the deep relationship with nature through the most original and easiest means of work.
The Miao culture has been permeating every corner of Miao villages and the hearts of Miao people by Miao Costumes, which brings profound educational functions.
At first, it shows gorgeous formal beauty education. Formal beauty is sort of special form in the pursuit of beauty among human beings. People would not feel the colorful life, if there is no formal beauty education. The formal beauty of Miao Costume reflected in the tint beauty of different patterns firstly. Some of the reasons why Miao Costume is so exceptional are its bright tone and fine and smooth designs, which not only extrudes unique ethnic characters but indicates the insistence and unsophisticated of this nation. The main colors of dress of Miao female are red, blue, yellow, white and black, which keep the tradition of five colors. Miao people mixed the cool color tone and warm tone bravely through their own understanding on nature and society, which express kind of gorgeous and harmonious aesthetic style. Secondly, it was reflected by the patterns. Its sources are extremely extensive and they are consisted of not only patterns of animals, like birds, fish, dragon, and phoenix and so on but patterns of plants, like peony, lotus, plum blossom etc. Those patterns’ lines are smooth and the form is rich in change, which makes people dazzled. Thirdly, it was reflected on the poetic imagery beauty. It means that the thought and ideas of beauty are given in the patterns. Generally speaking, those patterns on the costumes usually express kind of meaning potential symbol. Such as, lotus and fish would represent the idea of annual and superabundant. Magpie standing on the branch of plum blossom means that happiness appears on eyebrows. What’s more important is that the abstract meaning, temperament and interest reflecting on the Miao Costume cultivate the children’s sense of formal beauty that would help them to discover and create beauty in their daily life.
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Miao Cluture
Then, it cultivates national self-identity and sense of pride. Actually, Miao people attach much importance to the decoration on their heads. Their headwear always has unique designs and exaggerated style. Its substance is that Miao people recall their ancestor, Chi you and trace to source of common ties of blood. Such as, the pattern of flying cross on the horse tells totally and precisely a period of hardly history that thousands of years ago the ancestor of Miao people lived on the plain district with fertile land and river, but they were forced to migrate to the desolate virgin forest for wars. Therefore, this period of special history was engraved in the brim of hat in order to preach to descendant to keep the tough history in mind. And it told us the excellent quality of bravery, diligence, and persistence. When they participated in some important ceremonies, those symbols always could arouse strong sense of national self-identity. Miao people advocating a better life of democracy and freedom, without fear of various feudal dynasty ban. Miao clothing patterns is to study the history and culture of living fossil, is the “wearable history books”. Hmong elders from everyday dress patterns pattern for young people about those self-improvement, defying power of ancestor’s stories, so that young people identify with their ancestors struggled and stronger and more deeply experience the essence of their own culture, cultivate self-identity and pride of the nation.
Finally, it reflected the environment moral education in harmony of human and nature. Hmong extremely respect for nature, faith Heaven nation. In their world, nature as much God, not man explain some physical phenomena, they are always attributed to God or the forces of nature. Precisely because of this pious reverence natural attitude, Hmong people in harmony with nature. Miao costumes on the grid, pattern, curved bar, cross pattern on the other pattern reflects the Miao People have mountains and water people’s ideal world scenery. Hmong men and women have a communion with nature’s hearts; he has improved the perception of natural color images to show through clothing.
Miao costumes’ cultural accumulation on the patterns possesses profound cultural connotations and rich deep educational implication.
Hmong women’s clothing as a representation of the brilliance what people think, but its deep cultural spiritual characteristics is explored by few people. In fact, the Hmong women’s clothing as a way of life and cultural traditions exist, the content and form of clothing obey their lives and emotions. Dress shape, especially in decorative patterns, the deposition of rich spiritual content. And this spiritual dimension is the most important characteristic of the original spirit of witchcraft, which created a women’s clothing is different from other ethnic Hmong costumes unique appearance and charm. Hmong witchcraft spirit contains two meanings: one is that certain things with the spirits as a symbol of symbols, behavior, etc.; hand also refers to such things as the survival of the psychological basis and the value derived there from idea those mental properties. Thus, making witchcraft spirit with infinite metaphor, suggestion is beyond conventional imagination mystique and other features.
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Participate in witchcraft activities
Witchcraft reflecting on the Miao women’s clothing as a symbol of the spirit, could talk about from the following three aspects.
1. Tokenism. Legend maple is derived from the shackles Chi Miao ancestors, with Chi Reiki. Tree Goddess heart turned into a butterfly, bear next 12 eggs, the eggs they conjure up the moon and stars, all kinds of animals and humans and spirits. Therefore, the clothing maple pattern has totem worship and adoration of integrated features, is a “man of nature”, has a strong witchcraft colors.
2. Supernatural beliefs. Miao belief of many gods, the ancient “36 God, 72 ghosts,” said. These ghosts symbols are the soul of all things, plants, and even a spider, are elves, the idea of having superhuman strength. By embroidery, batik, silverware shape pattern, kid little people of God throughout the clothes, supervisor’s behavior, which reflects the will of witchcraft.
3. Myths and legends. In Xiang xi Miao costumes pattern, interpretation of the story comes from the myths and legends of the form list goes on. Witchcraft legends of figures, the mundane with a distinctive style, such as “Dragon Boat Festival”, “Bridge of God”, “Village of God” and other patterns. These voodoo mythology pattern, while the performance of the Miao people live in the spirit of witchcraft is everywhere, on the other hand expressed the Hmong social equality social relations, is earning Hmong replication environment and the social life.
Miao women are clothing witchcraft functionality, performance in the following three aspects:
(1) Participate in witchcraft activities
Hmong everything witchcraft activities, such as worship, prayer, cherish the memory, sacrifice, etc., almost inseparable dress costumes. On the one hand, the festival rituals, beautiful costumes to express respect for the gods; the other hand, if there is no involvement of costumes, the celebration of the divine nature will be shaken, and the Hmong people’s concern for these far more than witchcraft activities itself has become a kind of spiritual sustenance.
(2) The role of missionaries
In witch festival activities, gorgeous costumes in the form of its tastes and most intuitive way to move people, moved favor, play otherwise difficult to do missionary role in order to enhance the cohesion of the Miao ethnic group.
(3) Cultural spirit
“Madame for sharing, home for witch history”, Miao ancestors founded the religion advocated that “everyone can Babel, and everyone can witch”, the political and religious ideas, making the Hmong women’s clothing in every stitch is imbued with shamanism spirit. From symbolizes the source of life, population reproduction pattern butterfly to symbolize ancestral birthplace and migration over the rivers, lakes and mountains and mountain lines, no not by virtue of the Hmong people witch costumes implicit cultural content to the understanding of history, to observe the world, to understand life and even its own way. This awareness represents witchcraft spirits Hmong people, the soul dedication, the pursuit of the spiritual realm of freedom.
In the long history journey, Hmong women’s clothing as the carrier of the spirit of witchcraft, giving many of the plot symbol apparel, infused with the spirit of witchcraft strong. Conversely, clothing and entertaining take on the mission of God through a ghost. It is difficult to give up in this relationship, Miao clothing adhering to the basic spirit of witchcraft symbol, and make it beautiful, woven in the fabric, style design, color, craftsmanship and design modeling, artistic composition, otherworldly image shaping other aspects of the pursuit of perfection and even complicated. The same time, so that it has a simple yet profound symbolic meaning. It is no longer analog and reproduction of life, but in freehand symbols, blending the real world, the spirits world and the art world, which constitute a unique aesthetic mood clothing, so that people’s appreciation of the arts to get a beyond self, beyond reality emotional experience. Through this conception, Hmong women’s clothing with its functional grasp, adjust the man and man, man and society, the relationship between man and nature, serve to strengthen ethnic unity and identity, the role of stabilizing population lives, which is Hmong women’s clothing lies deep spiritual characteristics.
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Wax printing
Miao silver is a cultural hybrid; it has a diversity of two-way, with very rich social connotations and social implication. Silver is wealth, status symbol, represents a strong sense of wealth, showing off a sense; it is also a sign of love and marriage and holiday wishes, is a mystical symbol of cultural and religious worship, but in the final analysis, it is a nation’s collective selection. Miao silverware patterns on content-rich, involving objects, patterns and shapes are clearly reflects the Hmong history, culture, nature and totem worship, worship of other gods.
People not only live in the material world, but also living in their own world of symbols. Culture is a symbol; it gives the everyday life in order, form and meaning. Cultural patterns recorded large number of these symbols of the ancient concept of nature and life metaphor, is the core of culture, but also carries a nation’s cultural genes. And silver as a unique cultural phenomenon, it has the function of this cultural symbol. Hunan Wu ling Mountain is known since ancient times, the smoke miasma wild land, inaccessible, and more mountains; Han Ma Yuan is called “birds do not fit the beast”. Western culture since ancient times has been subjected to three seedlings, Chu culture, Pakistani culture and other cultures. Therefore, the unique geographical location and multiple, complex cultural influence became silver hotbed of culture and development. Hmong culture is a full of mysterious voodoo gods culture, mountains and water around, closed complex natural environment to provide Miao religious imagination of the original object to be relatively loose backward economic and humanistic social, cultural and Hmong holds more cultural relics. In addition, the mix of shapes Miao silverware also contains totem legacy. Like other ethnic Hmong and experienced human childhood, totem as the nation’s patron saint, is a national symbol, is a primitive spiritual sustenance. Miao totem worship is the most common cattle, dogs, fish, butterflies and dragons and other animals; their image is also widely produced in the silver. Such as fish pattern shape on reproductive worship of the ancient meaning of Xiang xi Miao women’s silver necklace engraved on the chest there are many kinds of fish graphic patterns, its shape or opposite, or entangled and changeable. Hmong people to the worship of birds is also very obvious, the Hmong people believe that birds can fly accompanied by the soul. Silver in the shape of honeysuckle, there are many birds, such as the phoenix bird, butterflies, praying mantis, etc., clusters commission owned, shiny silver. These are reflected in tokenism Miao people’s understanding of the objective world, is their heart’s desire, ideals and the pursuit of reproduction.
Miao ethnic culture has a distinct personality. That is afraid of power, admit defeat, is the backbone of their culture; wild mystery and sincere, and is the essence of Nous culture characteristics of their culture and color. Qu Yuan, for example, in the middle Warring States “Nine Songs”, is in the vicinity of the Yuan River in the Western understanding of life, according to Wu Miao songs, re-creation of the word witch sorcerer romance, eerie and magical. As the original cultural patterns of embroidery, namely by the Hmong cultural values influence and led.
Hmong preserved their national character, “Ancient Song” and dress patterns contributed to its emphasis on the common blood Hmong ethnic origin, had emphasized their common living space, so that in the long process of gradual separation migratory Hmong groups associated with a common culture in mind, so that it did not forget their ancestors history. These deep, gloomy dress patterns initially obvious utilitarian purpose, it is not only the history of their ancestors bitter testimony, but also to return homeland signpost. When the harsh reality broke hopes to return to hometown, people put it as history passed down generation to generation, its utilitarian purpose was gradually replaced by ideological significance.
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Miao Dance
Hmong dress patterns immortal value lies in the historical culture of the Miao people awareness, education and Miao ancestral homeland posterity will never forget, show the emergence of Remembrance family ancestors and roots of strong homesickness.
War and killing is the Miao people hated sunless night. Therefore, they hoped to live a comfortable life under the sunshine. As colorful carp, its two long tentacles curled round bellied, means that there are belly (blessing). Therefore it was called “Mermaid”. Another example is the “comb magpie”, a black and white magpie against natural beauty, the beauty of brilliant color instead – cultural concept of the magpie.
Miao who began learning embroidery stitches, in particular, understand the meaning of a variety of color patterns.
Color is a cultural feelings, represents a state of mind or mood. The color schema is a distinct cultural phenomenon. Yan embroidery to the extreme is an ancient nation of special cultural phenomenon. Located in a corner of Xiang xi in Hunan has long blocking traffic, backward productivity, and therefore more primitive cultural relics. This splendid embroidery cultural phenomenon expressed Hmong cultural ideology of performance.
It is often said that the only nation in the world, and I think this will be no exception Miao silverware. Miao silver is a mixture of culture, which is rich, complex and diverse, and its stunning visual beauty extrinsic or intrinsic meaning is more memorable. Both Miao people and Miao silver are tortuous history, unique cultural reproduction, and it also fully embodies the wisdom, charm and everlasting values of Hmong!

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