Exhibition on Costumes of China's Ethnic Minorities Tells of Folklore, History
DATELINE: XINHUA NEWS AGENCY, March 4, 2002, Monday
An exhibition on the costumes of various ethnic minorities in China is being
held in Hong Kong to demonstrate the relationship between the costume, folk
religion and culture among the minorities in China.
The exhibition, entitled the Chinese Ethnic Costumes Exhibition, is organized
by the Hong Kong Institute for Promotion of Chinese Culture and held at the
City University until April 1.
Featuring a private collection of 22 pieces of costumes from 20 different
minorities, such as the Ewenki and Kazak minorities by Lee Mei Yin, one of the
institute's project consultants, the exhibition emphasizes costumes from the
Some of the other cultural relics are in fact antiques of more than 100 years
old, Lee said.
Such costumes are often thought to provide a record of the history and folklore
and bear the totems of the minorities' beliefs, as the weaving together of
every yarn also bears the marks of the delicate craftsmanship and wisdom of
such people, she said.
"These costumes bear a wide range of symbols, many of which are motifs drawn
from their daily life but with hidden meanings. For example in the Miao
minority, many patterns of the bird and butterfly are found, indicating that
these people have once worshipped them as totems. And on these motifs, many
variations on the same themes could be knitted out," she explained.
Lee said it was the rich coloring and delicate embroidery work of such
costumes, particularly the various cultural symbols, conveyed by the patterns
that had made her devote herself to collecting the costumes in the 1980s.
hundred-pleated skirts, also from the Miao minority, are examples that display
artistic virtuosity: as many as 896 pleats with artistic patterns are knitted
onto the skirts, she said, adding that each skirt would have taken up to five
to six years to complete, she said.
From the raising of silkworms, extracting of silk, weaving of yarns into cloths
and dyeing, and the embroidery work, each process reflects a woman's wisdom and
hard work in the making, she said.
Lee said the hand-making of such costumes is an art that is possibly one of the
last Chinese cultural heritage that has existed to date in an increasingly
modernized China, Lee said.