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 Bouyei Costume

The typical costume of Bouyei men comprises a long sleeved short shirt with the buttons down the front worn with long trousers. Young men like to wrap their heads with scarves of black or lattice cloth. Compared with the men's clothes, those of the women are more varied and complex depending upon the area in which they live.
In Guizhou Province, women's dress comes in four different styles, namely: the Northwest, Southwest, Central, and Eastern style.


The women living in the northwest favor a short black jacket, secured with a band tied on the left rather than buttons. The jacket will have a batik pattern on the cuffs and front. It is worn with a pleated skirt made of batik cloth, a turban, silver ornaments, and an apron. Unmarried women wear a plain apron, while those who are married wear an apron with an embroidered floral pattern. The Central style, which can be found in Huishui and Changshun includes long green trousers, silver ornaments (hairpins, neck bands, earrings, and silver bracelets), and an apron. Women living in the southwest often wear either trousers with a long sleeved blue jacket buttoned on the right or an embroidered coat with a long pleated batik skirt. The sleeve fronts and shoulders of the coat are usually decorated with either batik or embroidery. The Eastern style includes a dress and trousers trimmed in lace, and a turban. Following long term contact with the Han people, the Eastern dress differs little from that of the Han.


Almost every Bouyei woman is adept at weaving and embroidery. A Bouyei girl, under her mother's guidance, can easily become good at planting cotton (linen), spinning thread, weaving cloth and sewing the cloth, not to mention the traditional handicraft ---embroidery in which every Bouyei woman is an expert. The Bouyei women always regard their exquisite handmade embroideries such as lapel, cuff, macramé, embroidered shoes, bed curtain, pillowcase, girdle, baby carrier and the like as precious gifts or tokens of good wish. Among them, the carrier cloth embroidery (the cloth used to carry a child on the back) is especially treasured by the Bouyei women for its stitching and symmetry of flower patterns. A piece of carrier embroidery can only be born after many trials under the guidance of an embroidery expert. And most of the time, a young woman would often embroider her nice wish and pure affection with each stitch when she is in love with a young man. And some competent grandmothers would send the embroidered carrier to celebrate the grandchild's thriving growth when the baby is 100 days old.

Bouyei ethnic people like to make their costume with blue, cyan and white cloth. The male' costume in different areas still share a similar style. The young adults mostly wear a head cloth, pair-lapel jacket (big-lapel cope) and trousers while the elderly tend to wear the big-lapel jacket or cope. The females' costumes differ from areas and vary in style. For example, the senior women in Badahe community still stick to the traditional costumes: black head cloth, cyan collarless paired-lapel jacket. The jacket is loose with wide sleeve, and the right lapel inlaid with two-inch-wide braid and underside sewed with various colorful braids. The inner wear's sleeves are usually shorter and narrower than the outers’. Both inner and outer wear have elaborate and vivid flower patterns embroidered in symmetry and harmony, thus the exposed sleeves with patterns embroidered in layers are very eye-catching.

In the past generation, most of the women wore the dark blue long skirt and a pair of embroidered shoes with pointed toe cap named "Cat nose flower shoe" (“Hailangao” in Bouyei dialect) with intricate flower patterns while some of them also wore the cyan girdle and embroidered apron. The overall costume comprehensively united the handicraft processes of spinning, weaving, printing, flower stitching,and embroidery and the like. The making of an overall costume has often revealed the skill and competence of a Bouyei woman. As time changes, some of the middle-aged Bouyei females have instead changed to wear the white towel as head cloth, jacket with collar(or lower collar, two or three colored cloth braid on the right lapel and silvery bulb button and traditional sleeves. They wear long trousers and crescent-shaped embroidered shoes with tiny flowers embroidered on the tip. The developed costumes still maintain the cleanness, elegance, simplicity and decency. Yet similar to the costumes of the middle-aged women, the young single females prefer to sew the tip of head cloth with colorful flower patterns that expose between the upper head and silvery hair band, attributing to the neat and beautiful look. On every grand festival or banquet, Bouyei women love to wear various kinds of silvery accessories like the earrings, rings, necklace, and bracelets and so on. The women in the mixed habitat, daintily wear the big lapel jacket with two-meter-long head cloth in blue, cyan, black ,white and so on. A Few of them also wear the apron and long trousers