How are stories told without literature? 📚 For thousands of years the Miao people (also known as Hmong) of Southwestern China have told stories and histories through elaborate embroidery. Legend states that a young warrior called Lan Juan embroidered pictures on her dress to record the Miao people succeeding over their enemies 👗
From the age of seven, a girl will begin to learn this ancient craft 👧 Mostly she’ll learn from her mother, but in Miao villages embroidery is a social activity. Mothers, grandmothers, daughters, sisters, aunts, nieces and family friends all gather to swap tips, give guidance, and probably talk about recent gossip too! Not only are girls taught the technical features of sewing, but also the symbolism and styles in which she’ll preserve the myths and legends of her people #WellbeingWednesday
Animals like horses, snails, dragons, chickens and goats all have a meaning in embroidery 🐌 From a Western eye these garments just look pretty, but until recently the Miao lacked a written language - their only method of recording history was through embroidery and wearing these living histories #ChallengingPerceptions
A girl will practice her skills until she turns sixteen 🧵 From that point she’ll spend several years working on the most important garment in her life: her wedding dress 👰 Miao wedding dresses honour the legendary founder of their craft, and the end result not only showcases the incredible skills she’s developed, but those skills also signify her rite of passage.
This child’s hat comes from Guizhou province and dates from the early 20th Century. After marriage, it was expected that the woman would begin her own family 👨👩👧 She will now pass on these skills to her own daughters (with some help from her family and friends of course) 🧶 It’s mostly likely that a loving mother made this hat, but due to the social sewing culture of the Miao it possibly could have come from any skilled woman in the community. #MEAA