Chinese Minority Textiles:  Miao and Others - 1

        from the collection of Marla Mallett

The ethnic minorities of China have produced fanciful, colorful costumes with distinctive flavors. They display superlative embroidery, brocading and batik. Objects by Miao, Gejia, Shui, Dong, Yao, Buyi, Yi, Zhuang and Li groups from the southwestern provinces of Guizhou, Hunan, Yunnan, Guangxi and Hainan are currently featured on these pages. Most costume items or accessories are decorated with flowers, birds and animals from the surrounding landscape --  anthropomorphic and zoomorphic images that are often abstracted. Traditional auspicious designs appear, even among patterns that are completely geometric.  Some parts of these minority groups, particularly the Miao, migrated southward into Vietnam, Laos and Thailand, where they are known as H'mong. Yao groups are also numerous on both sides of the border and produce similar textiles in both areas. 

Most of the pieces on these pages are between 40 and 100 years of age. A few are more recent. Ages are difficult to assess with certainty;  my notes include only educated guesses.  With this charming textile folk art, the important qualities are superb craftsmanship, excellent materials and color, good condition, and inspired expression.  

Click on the inventory numbers below to see full views of the textiles and large detail scans. Go to  A Few Snapshots for photos of the artisans and their costumes.  For Han textiles go to our Chinese Textiles pagePieces by related ethnic groups appear on our  Japanese Textiles or Tribal Textiles of Southeast Asia pages. Check out our HOME page for textiles from other parts of the world. 


Dan Zhai - Bai Ling Baby Carrier

Guizhou, China. 
67½"x 38."
Silk embroidery on cotton, with

Shui Dress
Guizhou, China
50½"x 35"
Silk and horsetail embroidery 
on cotton

Miao Panel
6" x 24½"
Silk satin-stitch embroidery
on silk satin

Rao Jia Baby Carrier

Guizhou, China
27½"x 29"
Silk embroidery on cotton

Dong Jacket
Guizhou, China
40½"x 28½"
Horsetail and shirred braid
embroidered bands on silk satin

Miao Baby Carrier
Guizhou, China
42"x 28"
Silk embroidery on cotton, with
folded triangle applique

Tijiang Miao Apron
Guizhou, China
15"x 29" plus ties
Silk embroidery on cotton

Miao Embroidered Bands
Southwest China
Each 5½"x 18½"
Silk satin stitch on cotton




Zhuang Baby Carrier
Yunnan, China
Center panel:  19½"x 27"
Silk embroidery and appliqué on silk;
tassels and metallic ornaments

Miao Jacket
Leishan, Guizhou. China
Silk embroidery on cotton

Rao Jia Baby Carrier
Guizhou, China
29"x 20½"plus ties
Cotton appliqué on black calendared
"shiny black" cotton

Dong Bag or Cushion Cover
Guizhou, China
17"x 16½"
Silk satin-stitch on cotton




A Few Snapshots: Textile Artisans of Southwestern China
Chinese Minority Textiles - Bibliography
Chinese  Textiles

I have started a section on Embroidery Techniques;  first is a page illustrating the often confused Seed Stitch ("Forbidden Stitch") and Peking Stitch. 
  Go to our HOME Page for more textiles

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