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Bouyei clothing

( chinadaily.com.cn)

Updated: 2020-11-30

Almost every Bouyei woman is adept at weaving and embroidery and Bouyei girls, under their mother's guidance, can easily become good at planting cotton, spinning thread, weaving cloth, and sewing, as well as being an expert at embroidery -- the traditional handicraft. Bouyei women regard their exquisite embroidery work, such as lapels, cuffs, shoes, bed curtains, pillowcases, baby carriers, and the like, as precious gifts or tokens of wishes. Of these, the embroidery of a carrier (for carrying a baby on the back) is especially treasured for its stitching quality and symmetry of flower patterns. This carrier embroidery can only be done after a long effort under the guidance of an expert. Often, a young woman will embroider her wishes and pure affection with each stitch if she is in love with a young man. And talented grandmothers will send an embroidered carrier to celebrate a grandchild's first 100 days to promote growth.

The Bouyei ethnic group like clothing made of blue and white cloth, with the male clothing different in some ways but similar in style. Young men mostly wear a head cloth, lapel jacket and trousers, while the elderly tend to wear a big-lapel jacket or cope. Female clothing differ from one place to the next and in style. For example, the older women of the Badahe community stick to traditional costumes of a black head cloth, greenish-blue collarless lapel jacket. The jacket is loose with wide sleeves, and the right lapel inlaid with two-inch-wide braid and the underside decorated with colorful braids. The inner sleeves are usually shorter and narrower than the outer. Both inner and outer wear have elaborate flower patterns embroidered symmetrically, so the exposed sleeves with patterns embroidered in layers are eye-catching.

In the past, most women wore a long dark blue skirt and a pair of embroidered shoes with pointed toecaps called "cat nose flower shoes" (hailangao, in the Bouyei dialect) with intricate flower patterns, while some also wore a greenish-blue girdle and embroidered apron. The entire costume brought together spinning, weaving, printing, flower stitching, and embroidery and the overall costume often revealed the skill and competence of a particular woman. Over time, some middle-aged Bouyei women changed to a white towel as the head cloth, a jacket with collar with two or three colored cloth braids on the right lapel and a silvery bulb button, and traditional sleeves. They wear long trousers and crescent-shaped embroidered shoes with tiny flowers on the tip. The newer costumes still maintain the cleanness, elegance, simplicity, and decency of those of the past. Young single females, a little similar to middle-aged women, still prefer to fix the tip of the head cloth with colorful flower patterns between the upper head and silvery hair band, bringing a neat, beautiful look. For festivals or banquets, Bouyei women love to spot different kinds of silvery accessories, such as earrings, rings, necklaces, and bracelets. Women in a mixed habitat, wear the big lapel jacket with a two-meter-long head cloth in blue, greenish-blue, black, or white. Some also like to wear an apron and long trousers.

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