A world of vibrant colors, exquisite craftsmanship

Wang Jie
An exhibition of traditional Yi clothing that embodies the spirit and history of ethnic Yi minorities is being held at the Jiading Museum.
Wang Jie
A world of vibrant colors, exquisite craftsmanship

The Jiading Museum is hosting “Brilliant Yi Clothing,” an exhibition of 100 exhibits (sets) of traditional Yi people’s clothes and costumes.

The exhibition is structured into three sections that depict the past and present days of Yi people’s clothing through rich exhibits and instructive visuals: “The Origin and Evolution of Yi Clothing,” “Six Types of Yi Clothing” and “Yi Clothing and Embroidery in the New Era.”

The Yi ethnic minority group is spread extensively in southwestern China’s Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou provinces. Yi culture is included in the national intangible cultural heritage, and its clothing is a cultural treasure.

The Yi costumes, representing a culmination of significant historical, scientific, artistic, and aesthetic values, are sometimes considered equivalent to an “encyclopedia” on the body.

A world of vibrant colors, exquisite craftsmanship

Yi costumes from Yunnan's Yuanmou County

Historically, clothes from different places have diverse styles, strong regional hues, and a variety of distinguishing elements.

For example, many areas in Sichuan’s Liangshan remain chilly all year round, with little climate variation; therefore, Yi clothes are not seasonal, and the cha’erwa (shawl) is worn all year round.

Both Yi men and women in Liangshan wear cha’erwa. It is knitted from wool and styled like a cape. It falls below the knee.

There are six main clothing types among the Yi people, depending on the places where they live. Women wear garments with gorgeous flowers embroidered on them, long trousers with lace, or pleated skirts. Men are dressed in black, narrow-sleeved clothing and loose slacks. Both men and women wear head scarves, but women’s scarves are embroidered.

A world of vibrant colors, exquisite craftsmanship

Women’s costumes from Yunnan’s Shiping County

Yi women from Yunnan’s Xiaoliangshan wear skirts, but other Yi women wear trousers. Married Yi women’s lapel cuffs and collars have detailed and colorful lace, especially the waistband embroidery.

With ancestral embroidery skills, Yi people needle nature designs onto their costumes, such as flowers, butterflies, birds, tigers and cats, as well as the sun, moon and stars.

All these costumes are handcrafted. Each stitch captures the effort and knowledge of this community, expressing their outlook on life and appreciation of beauty.

Exhibition info:

Date: Through December 17 (closed on Mondays), 8:30am-5pm

Venue: Jiading Museum

Address: 215 Bole Road | 博乐路215号

Admission: Free

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