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Costumes of Ethnic Minorities in China
Clothes of Chinese ethnic minorities are flowery and colorful, extremely exquisite, and highly distinctive. They constitute an important part of the rich history and culture of the ethnic groups.

Every aspect of their garments, such as raw materials, textile technology, fashion and decoration, retains a distinct characteristic of the ethnic group and the locality. The Hezhen ethnic minority people, who mainly make a living on fishing, used to make clothes with fishskin. The hunting ethnic groups, such as Oroqen and Ewenki, used roe skin and animal tendon to stitch up their clothes. The Mongolians, Tibetans, Kazakstans, Khalkhases, Yugurs, etc., who are mainly engaged in stockbreeding, make their apparel mostly from animal skin and hair. And, farming ethnic minorities usually take the locally produced cotton or hemp thread as raw materials to spin cloth and silk and make clothes.

Ethnic minorities' spinning and weaving, tanning and felting techniques boast a long history. For example, bombax cloth of the Li ethnic minority, woolen fabric of the Tibetan, Adelis silk of the Uygur, fur products of the Oroqen have enjoyed a worldwide reputation all along.

There are numerous clothing designs and forms in Chinese ethnic minorities. Generally speaking, they can be classified into two types: long gowns and short clothes. People usually wear a hat and boots to match long gowns, and headcloth and shoes to match short clothes. The gowns take various forms: the high-collar and big-front type worn by the Mongolian, the Manchu, the Tu and so on; the collarless tilted-front type worn by the Tibetan, the Moinba and so on; the tilted-front type worn by the Uygur and other ethnic minorities; and so on. As for short clothes, they fall into two types: trousers and skirts.

In terms of fashion of skirts, there are pleated skirts, tube skirts, short skirts, one-piece dress and so on. In any kind of clothes, no matter it is the gown, the coat, the skirt, or the trousers, different ethnic minority groups employ different structures, techniques and styles. Take high-collared big gowns for example. Some of them have kick pleat, some don't have any kick pleat, some have kick pleat both in front and on the back, and some have front and back kick pleat and edging all around. Women of the Li, the Dai, the Jingpo, the De'ang ethnic minorities and so on all wear tube skirts, but those tube skirts worn by the Li are brocade skirts made of cotton, those worn by the Jingpo are woolen multicolored skirts, those worn by the De'ang are skirts with horizontal stripes, and those worn by the Dai are usually skirts made of common cloth.

Costumes of ethnic minorities vary greatly not only with different nationalities, but also with different branches and different regions within the same ethnic group. Difference can be seen from province to province, from county to county, and even from village to village. Costume is the most obvious symbol of an ethnic group, and in the history, many ethnic groups were named just according to their garments.

In a vast country like China, with so many ethnic groups and an unbalanced social development, styles of clothes vary a lot due to different economic lives, cultural levels, natural environments and geographical conditions and climatic conditions. This is one of the characteristics of folk garments.

Some techniques of Chinese ethnic minorities such as embroidery and batik are much developed, and are widely used in making clothing adornments. This is another feature of their costumes.

Embroidery is a technique generally favored by all ethnic groups, and it is usually used in the headband, the waistband, the apron, and some rapid-wearing parts such as the border of the front, the round shoulder, the lower hem, the wristband, the bottom of trouser legs, the edge of the skirt, etc., being both decorative and practical. Embroidery techniques include cross-stitch work, applique, embroidering and so on; methods include surface, twine, chain, net, stab and stack embroidery, etc; patterns include natural scenes, auspicious patterns and geometric patterns and so on. 

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Achang Clothes
Influenced by the neighboring Dai and Han people, men in Achang ethnic minority tend to wear blue, white or black jackets which button down the front, and black trousers.
Bai Clothes
The Bais' costumes and ornaments are eye-catching and exquisite. Clothes of men have little difference, simple and unadorned. But costumes of the Bai women vary a lot from each other.
Blang Clothes
Blang men dress themselves with a black round-collared jacket that buttons down the front and a pair of black loose pants. They wrap their heads with black or white cloth.
Bonan Clothes
Men of the Bonan ethnic minority always wear a white or black cap, a white gown and a dark blue waistcoat.
Bouyei Clothes
Clothes of men of Bouyei ethnic minority are almost the same with those of the Han men. However, Bouyei men still like to wear headcloth of black, blue or blue lattice cloth with white background.
Dai Clothes
The Dai men often wear a short collarless narrow-sleeved jacket with buttons on the right and trousers made of white or black cloth. They often dress in white.
Daur Clothes
In summer, men of the Daur ethnic minority wear fabric jackets topped with gowns, wrap their heads with a piece of white cloth and wear straw hats. In winter, they wear caps with two erect ears made of leopard scalp or fox fur, and leather shoes.
De'ang Clothes
De'ang women generally wear dark blue or black short jackets with buttons down the front that is inlaid with two strips of red cloth and sewn with four to five square silver fasteners.
Dong Clothes
Women of the Dong ethnic minority wear clothing made of homespun and home-dyed cloth. They wear collarless and broad-sleeved jackets without buttons and a small strip is attached to the edge of the jackets.
Dongxiang Clothes
Dongxiang women usually wear embroidered broad-sleeved clothes with a neckline around the collar, buttons down the front and embroidered lace on the cuffs.
Drung Clothes
Drung tapestries can be seen everywhere as house decorations. They are woven by hand with colorful threads spun from cotton and flax, soft and well designed. Cloaks made of these beautiful tapestries have become their unique traditional costume.
Ewenki Clothes
Clothing for herdsmen of the Ewenki ethnic minority includes a loose long gown buttoned down on one side with a long waistband. They put on a big fur coat when doing labor work. In winter, they wear jackets and pants made of longhaired, thick rawhide, together with boots, hats and gloves all made from animal skin.
Gaoshan Clothes
Aboriginals of the Gaoshan ethnic minority in Taiwan wear clothes in various styles made of linen and cotton fabric. Men generally wear a shawl, a vest, a short coat, a pair of shorts, a kerchief and cloth leggings. In some areas, they use bine or willow bark to make waistcoats, with refined handwork.
Gelo Clothes
In the past, Gelo women wore very short jackets with sleeves and cuffs embroidered with patterns of fish scale. They wore tight skirts divided into three sections, the middle one of red wool and the upper and lower ones of black-and-white striped linen.
Han Clothes
One of the characteristics of Han people's costume is that the front of the upper garments is buttoned on the right. In the late years of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911) and early years of the Republic of China, men usually wore a shirt with buttons down the front, trousers and a long gown over it buttoned on the right or topped with a waistcoat.
Hani Clothes
Costumes vary among different clans of the Hani ethnic minority. This is especially so for women's clothes. Hani women in Honghe area wear collarless jackets with buttons made of silver coins down the left side of the front and long trousers.
Hezhe Clothes
The costume of the Hezhe people is almost the same as that of the Hans. The only difference is in the materials they use. In the past, clothes of the Hezhe people were mostly made of fish skin, roe skin or deer skin, among which fish skin dresses were considered their national dresses.
Hui Clothes
The typical costume of men of the Hui ethnic minority includes a white or black skullcap, a white short gown with a black waistcoat in summer. Women often wear a head covering that covers the head and shoulders entirely, leaving only the face exposed.
Jing Clothes
Jing women hang a piece of rhombic cloth to cover the chest, a narrow-sleeved collarless succinct short gown buttoned down the front and a pair of long and wide black or brown trousers. If they go out or visit friends, they add a narrow-sleeved, succinct cheongsam, usually in white, with high kick pleats. Wealthy people mostly wear black, white or brown clothes made of silk or gauze. Jing women like to wear earrings.
Jingpo Clothes
Young women of the Jingpo ethnic minority usually wear short jackets with buttons down the front middle or front left. Their jackets are always sewn with numerous silver bubbles and pieces.
Jino Clothes
Jino women usually wear collarless jackets buttoned down the front, with the upper sleeves made of black or white cloth while the lower part of cloth in seven colors such as red, blue, yellow and white.
Kazak Clothes
The Kazak men and women wear quite different costumes. In order to be convenient for riding, the clothes for men are always wide and well-knit. Women's clothes are colorful and have various styles.
Kirgiz Clothes
Kirgiz men usually wear a blue or black sleeveless long gown made of sheepskin or cotton cloth over a white round-collared shirt with embroidered laces.
Korean Clothes
White is the favorite color of Korean people, who have the reputation for being "the people in white".
Lahu Clothes
Men of the Lahu ethnic minority wear black headbands with black collarless short jackets buttoned on the right side or in the middle, and sloppy long trousers.
Lhoba Clothes
Lhoba men wear a waistcoat reaching the abdomen and wrap the back with a piece of urus skin. They wear a long gown inside the waistcoat and a round-topped cap made of bearskin or woven with bines, and carry with them arrows and a long knife. They keep hair, of which the part on the forehead reaches the eyebrows and the rest is scattered on the back.
Li Clothes
In the past, men of the Li ethnic minority usually wore simple clothes: just covering their body with a piece of cloth on the front and the back and surrounding the waist with another piece of cloth.
Lisu Clothes
The Lisu people used to wear clothes of handmade cloth.
Magpie Dress in Yunnan
In the Yunnan local dialect, a small intermontane plain is called a bazi. Baofengba in Puning County is a village inhabited by the Hans. When I saw Luo Meiying, the township leader, she wore a typical peasant dress: a black cloth scarf wrapped apron on her head, a white tight jacket covered with a black lace vest, an embroidered apron around her waist, blue pants and embroidered cotton shoes. Sensing my curiosity, she told me that it was called a magpie dress because the black head and body and white wings.
Manchu Clothes
In the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), Manchus all wear cheongsams. Cheongsams in the early period were inlaid with a welt of about 1 inch wide.
Maonan Clothes
In the past, both Maonan men and women liked wearing blue or black jackets either buttoned down the front or on one side.
Miao Clothes
Women of the Miao ethnic group pay much attention to the design, color and style of their costume. They often wear collarless gowns buttoned down the front or on the right and embroidered with pattern of flowers. Girls and unmarried women usually wear blue clothes, while middle- and old-aged women usually wear black clothes with white and blue waistbands.
Moinba Clothes
The Moinba women like to wear long-sleeved jackets in white, yellow or blue, pailform skirts with vertical lattices, a homespun and handmade long gown in red or black, and a waistband made of cloth. In some areas, women wear a piece of calfskin on the back, and white apron. Women usually arrange their hair into two plaits, and wear stringed ornaments made of colorful corals, beads, and stones.
Mongolian Clothes
The Mongolian people generally wear blue or black clothes. Women's upper garments include three layers: the first layer is a leotard with sleeves reaching the wrists, the second is the one in the middle reaching the buttock with sleeves only reaching the elbow, and the third layer is a collarless and sleeveless waistcoat with a row of round silver buttons.
Mulam Clothes
Several hundred years ago, men of the Mulam ethnic group wore a collarless gown buttoned down the front or on the right, and trousers.
Naxi Clothes
Naxi women living in Lijiang area typically dress in a wide-sleeved loose gown topped with a waistcoat, trousers, a pleated apron and a pair of boat-shaped embroidered shoes.
Nu Clothes
Influenced by neighboring ethnic groups, the Nu people do not have a uniform style of costume. In Gongshan area, their costume is similar to that of the Tibetans, with a long gown, a kerchief and a waistband. Nu women in this area used to wrap their body simply with two pieces of flax, put on adornments on the chest and penetrate their earlobes with two bamboo needles.
Oroqen Clothes
The Oroqen people used to live on hunting. The long history of hunting life influenced the creation of their unique dressing culture.
Peaked Hat of Jino Ethnic Minority
The Jino ethnic minority lives in Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture of Yunnan Province and its neighboring areas in southern China.
Pumi Clothes
Pumi children, no matter girls or boys, all wear long linen gowns buttoned on the right with silver buttons on the collar, and cloth waistbands woven with various patterns and thread fringes on both ends. Girls keep long hair and arrange it into plaits decorated with red and green beads.
Qiang Clothes
The Qiangs dress themselves simply but beautifully. Men and women alike wear blue gowns made of gunny cloth, cotton and silk with sleeveless wool jackets.
Russian Clothes
The costume of the Russians is noted for its colorfulness. Men often wear split long robes and long trousers, or sometimes white embroidered shirts together with pantalettes. In winter, they wear leather or cotton-padded clothes and fur hats.
Salar Clothes
The short jackets worn by Salar men are a bit looser or shorter than those of the neighboring Han men. However, they wear narrow long gowns.
She Clothes
Costume of the She women features embroidery, collar, buttons on the right side, embroidered patterns of flowers, birds, dragons and phoenixes on the pockets or even the cuffs.
Shui Clothes
Men of the Shui ethnic minority mostly wear casual clothes with cloth buttons down the front. They usually wear blue or green clothes, a black or blue turbans and pailform pants. However, nowadays, quite a few men wear Sun Yat-sen Uniform (a military uniform-like dress with a closed collar).
Tajik Clothes
Tajik men wear a shirt, a collarless overcoat buttoned down the front, a long and wide colorful waistband and loose trousers.
Tatar Clothes
Men of Tatar ethnic minority group often wear an embroidered white shirt with a black short waistcoat or a black gown, black trousers and a cat with black and white embroidered patterns. Young men prefer a peaked cap. In winter, Tatar men wear black hat made of curly fur and long leather boots; herdsmen usually wear a kind of leather shoes made by themselves.
Tibetan Clothes
Formerly, the Tibetan people wore different kinds of clothes according to their occupations. Whatever the style, the outfits were generally bright-colored and included a hat, a robe, and a pair of shoes. The most gorgeous and expensive clothes and ornaments were worn by nobles and officials or by people participating in religious rituals.
Tu Clothes
Young men of the Tu ethnic minority wear a terai laced with brocade, a small-collared long robe with tilted front, a black or purple waistcoat over the robe, a long embroidered band around the waist, trousers with a big crotch, and leggings with black upper part and white lower part. Old men wear a hat decorated with a piece of blue cloth in the shape of a horn, which can be rolled up or put down, a long robe, a black waistcoat over the robe, white trousers and black shoes.
Tujia Clothes
The costume of Tujia ethnic minority is greatly affected by that of the Han people. Only in some remote areas, they keep some traditional costumes.
Uygur Clothes
Costume of the Uygur ethnic minority features looseness, free style and sharp color contrast. In the past, the majority of Uygur women wore broad-sleeved one-piece dresses topped with a black waistcoat. Now, they mostly wear western-style short jackets and skirts.
Uzbek Clothes
Wearing various colored small caps is an important characteristic of their traditional costumes. The caps can be embroidered or made of corduroy or black velvet. Women sometimes wear scarves over the caps.
Va Clothes
Costume of the Va ethnic minority varies from place to place. In areas influenced greatly by the Han people, Va costume is similar to the Han's; in areas with great Dai's influence, it is similar to the Dai's. Only in Ximeng area of Yunnan Province, Va costume keeps much of its traditional feature.
Xibe Clothes
The Xibes, with a population of over 27,000 in Xinjiang, have their own language. They believe in Shamanism. Daxian Mountain and the Nenjiang River are the cradles of Xibe civilization-it is where the Xibes started and developed.
Yao Clothes
Yao women wear collarless jackets buttoned on the right, and trousers, short skirts or plaited skirt. They love to embroider various patterns on the front, cuffs and trouser legs of their clothes, arrange their hair into many small plaits, and wear accessories like silver hairpins, earrings, necklaces, silver badges, and bracelets, etc.
Yi Clothes
Yi people has thirteen sub-groups, most of which live in mountainous areas where it's windy and cold. Their favorite color for the costumes is black, but, Yi people have found the way to both make their clothes look colorful by meticulously blending the other colors with black and keep them warm.
Yugur Clothes
Yugur men wear a long gown with red or blue waistband. They usually wear a flat-topped and round canister-shaped hat or a white terai in summer and autumn; wear a hat made of fox-skin and leather boots in winter.
Zhuang Clothes
Although today there is no obvious difference in the contemporary costumes of Zhuang ethnic minority and Han people, the traditional Zhuang costume, worn on special occasions, is unique in style.

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