Naxi Ethnic Costume: Exquisite Art in SW China

May 31, 2017
By Fan WenjunEditor: Sherry Song
Naxi Ethnic Costume: Exquisite Art in SW China  
A young woman in Naxi costume. [Women of China/Fan Wenjun]  

 

According to people from the Naxi ethnicity in southwest China's Yunnan Province, the colorful clothes and accessories they wear represent the high point of their minority's traditional culture. 

Due to the Naxi's reliance on animal farming and grazing, especially among those in the local city of Lijiang, their costumes and adornments are usually made from the leather of cattle or sheep.

Meanwhile, the costumes traditionally worn by Naxi men share similarities to that of Han Chinese clothing, consisting of a gown and trousers.

Naxi women’s costumes have their own special features. They typically have a dress which is a layered gown with long sleeves. The gown is slightly longer at the back, reaching the calf, while it reaches the knees at the front.

Under the gown, Naxi women wear trousers, a loincloth, and a pair of boat-shaped shoes. The dress is also embroidered with lace on the collar, sleeves and at the front.

What makes the costume unique is the cape at the back, which is made of sheepskin and has seven round patterns with seven long fringed strings.

According to locals, there are two versions of the origin of the design, both with different meanings. Some believe that the patterns represent the stars and the starlight, respectively, and implicate Naxi women’s industriousness and competence with the legend of a brave Naxi girl called Ying Gu.

Another group state that Naxi people regard the frog as the god of wisdom, so they used the round patterns to symbolize frog’s eyes, to save them from danger.

As for adornments, Naxi women prefer to wear earrings, finger rings, and gold and jade bracelets and necklaces.

 

Naxi Ethnic Costume: Exquisite Art in SW China  

A Naxi woman uses a traditional loom to weave fabric. [Women of China/Fan Wenjun]

 
Naxi Ethnic Costume: Exquisite Art in SW China  

A Naxi costume on display. [Women of China/Fan Wenjun]

 
Naxi Ethnic Costume: Exquisite Art in SW China  

A Naxi costume on display. [Women of China/Fan Wenjun]

 
Naxi Ethnic Costume: Exquisite Art in SW China  

Naxi women display the costume for an elderly woman. [Women of China/Fan Wenjun]

 

(Women of China)

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