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Decorative Designs in Chinese Art 中国文物的纹饰

Textiles 织物 Miao 苗族

Miao 苗族

The Miao people 苗族 number about 10 million and live in Southern China, mostly in Guizhou, Hunan, Yunnan, Sichuan, Guangxi, Hainan, Guangdong, and Hubei provinces. Some Miao also live in Thailand, Laos, Vietnam and Myanmar. The Miao were among the first people to setting in the area that is now present-day China. Their origins can be traced back as least as far as the Shang Dynasty (1700—1045 BCE).

Miao sleeve attachments with embroidered animal design
苗族动物纹 20世纪上半叶 贵州 上海博物馆 Miao sleeve attachments with embroidered animal designs Early 20th century. Shidong, Taijiang, Guizhou, Shanghai Museum

Miao costume 苗服 is very diverse, including over 200 kinds. It is decorated with woven patterns, embroidery, and dyed designs. They are characteristically rich in color, as can be seen from the pictures on this page. Many of the designs are intended to identity of different groups or have other symbolic meaning. Miao clothing includes both formal attire and casual dress.

Miao sleeve with embroidered braiding and ancestral soul design
苗族祖灵纹 20世纪下半叶 贵州 上海博物馆 Miao sleeve with embroidered braiding and ancestral soul motif Late 20th century. Taijiang, Guizhou, Shanghai Museum

Decorative patterns on Miao clothing includes dragons, phoenix, birds, fish, flowers, plants, and geometric designs. There are many regional differences.

batik
苗族蜡染花鸟纹被面 20世纪下半叶 贵州 上海博物馆 Miao batik quilt with bird design Late 20th century. Taijiang, Guizhou, Shanghai Museum

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