Among China's 55 ethnic groups, the Miao are known for elaborate embroidery and exquisite work with silver.
They now get a chance to flaunt their handiwork, at the Miao Silver Accessory Festival in Southwest China, where many ethnic groups live in compact communities. Over a thousand women, dressed in traditional garb, presented the show.
Silver accessories are a standard for the Miao people. For more than 400 years, it's been the custom to decorate oneself head to toe, with silver. A full set can weigh up to ten kilograms. The purpose of wearing all this silver is of course primarily aesthetic, but they are also worn as amulets to ward off evil, and as symbols of wealth. The clothes bear strong cultural message. The patterns range from ancient totem to historic legend. Historians view it as the "Wearable History Book".
The tradition of wearing silver is preserved by a great number of craftsmen, scattered through the Miao villages. Most of the silver accessories are made by hands in a traditional way. A silver head-piece takes a couple of months to finish. In some villages, every male is trained in silver-work. Each ornament is an exquisite work of art and sparkles with the wisdom of the Miao people. The fancy Miao silver accessories include silver hat, silver horns, silver comb, silver ear-rings, neckband, necklace, bracelet, etc.
It is a tradition that, when a girl is born, her parents will start saving money to make and collect fancy silver ornaments that can weigh several kilograms. And on the wedding day, the girl will be wearing these beautiful silver accessories, adding joyful atmosphere to the happy event.
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