Some Books on Chinese Minority Costumes

Below are some books devoted to costumes and textiles of the minority peoples of Southwestern China. This is by no means a comprehensive list-- just a random few publications that I have come across and have found useful or interesting.  I would be pleased to receive your recommendations. We do not sell books; this listing is for your information only.

To see our gallery's current inventory of textiles from the area, go to Chinese Minority Textiles.


Miao Textiles from China. Gina Corrigan. London, 2001.  This small book is a good introduction to the costumes of the Miao living in Guizhou Province of Southwestern China. The articles shown are drawn from the collection of the British Museum, and are the types most familiar to collectors. Both full views of the garments and good details convey an accurate feel for the textiles. The publication is widely available and inexpensive. English text.

Bonding via Baby Carriers: The Art and Soul of the Miao and Dong People.  Yu-Chiao Liu Lan, Christi Lan Lin, and Brenda Lin. 2001, Taipei.  168 pages, innumerable color plates.  Paper. This charming book focuses solely on the embroidered and appliquéd baby carriers made by two closely related Chinese Minority ethnic groups in Guizhou Province. Photos show both full view and close-ups of each piece, they are identified completely, and the symbolism included is discussed. 

Clothings and Ornaments of China's Miao People. The Cultural Palace of Nationalities. 1985, Beijing. The Miao are the minority group most well known for their lavishly embroidered costumes, and this publication surveys them nicely.  It separates the various local styles, showing complete costumes, details, and how the garments were worn. 212 pages, large format, with hundreds of color photos. English text.
The Yao:  The Mien and Mun Yao in China, Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. Jess G. Pourret. Chicago, 2002. This book covers all aspects of the Yao society, including their numerous migrations, work, dwellings, religious paintings, manuscripts, elaborate costumes and silver jewelry. The costume sections are extensive and well illustrated.
Writing with Thread: Traditional Textiles from Southwest Chinese Minorities.  2009,  Honolulu. This catalog documents an exhibition from the collection of Huang Ying Feng and the Evergrand Art Museum in Taoyuan, Taiwan.  Several articles discuss the cultural significance of clothing design and ornamentation--mainly in Miao culture, but also other groups in Southwest China.  The volume is illustrated profusely with large, full-color photos.  Many complete costumes are shown, along with individual items.  It is a large paperback volume, with 430 pages.  Highly recommended for anyone interested in Minority textiles. 

Chinese National Costume Culture. 
1998, Beijing.  404 pages, 803 photographs, most in color.  This publication is entirely in Chinese-- both text and captions. But the photos of Chinese minority peoples and their costumes are magnificent. All areas of the country are included.
The Traditional Miao Wax Printing.  Yang Wenbing and Yang Ce. 2002. 117 pages, 203 color illustrations. Paper. This is a very nice survey of Miao batik work. The authors attribute each style and piece to a specific place, and discuss the full range of imagery and symbolism involved. Chinese and English.

Costumes and Accessories of Chinese Minorities. Tseng Yin Fu and Wong Yuan Shuei. 2000, Taipei.  This large, spectacular volume documents the costume collections of three individuals:  Zeng Yingfu, Won Yuanshui and Chen Cheng-hsiung. It includes garments and accessories from the provinces of Yunnan, Guizhou, Hunan, and Guangxi, as well as Hainan, Dongbei and Tibet. The examples are exquisite, many being rare early pieces. 376 pages, with excellent color plates. In Chinese and English.

The Chinese National Culture of Costume and Adornment. Ed. Wei Ronghui. 1992, Beijing.  330 pages. Innumerable color plates. In this large, lavish volume, a separate section is devoted to each of the 56 ethnic nationalities in China. Lovely photos display the rich array of costumery found throughout the country. Men's women's and children's clothing is shown, both festival and everyday wear.  Chinese and English text and captions.   

Miao Zhuang (Miao Clothing).
Wang Heng Fu, Ed.  2000, Beijing. 154 pages, profusely illustrated.  Lovely photos of Miao peoples and their costumery throughout China's southwestern provinces. Chinese text and captions only.  

Guizhou's Hidden Civilization. Zen Xianyang. 1999.  230 pages, profusely illustrated. Superb photos of cultural traditions and customs throughout the province. Shown are village architecture, landscapes, festivities, food, and costumes. Text in Chinese; captions in Chinese and English.
Yunnan Zhuang Nationality.  He Zhengting, ed., 1997. This Chinese publication focuses solely on the Zhuang Nationality peoples living in Yunnan Province.  It shows lots of costumes, but also discusses customs, festivals, history, monuments, architecture and daily life in both city and countryside. In Chinese and English.

The Costumes and Adornments of Chinese Yi Nationality Picture Album. Shi Songshan, ed. Beijing, 1990. This publication grew out of a series of costume exhibitions held in Beijing and in Sichuan, Yunnan and Guizhou Provinces in 1986 and 1987. It shows wide costume variations among the large Yi minority group, and includes research by a group of Chinese scholars who carefully separate the styles of various areas. 190 pages, large format, with innumerable large color plates.  English text.

Selected Collections of Yunnan Nationality Museum. Gao Zongyu, Yang Zhaolin, and Yu Xiaoyuan. 1995, Yunnan Fine Arts Publishing House.  175 pages; 300 color illustrations. Paper. This publication covers a broad range of crafts, but focuses on contemporary Minority costume items. It identifies each item by ethnic group and county of origin.  Chinese and English.

The Clothes nd Ornaments of Yunnan Ethnic Groups.
1989. 302 pages. This small book has endless photos of the costumery of the peoples living in Yunnan Province. Chinese text and captions.

The Dress and Costume of Minority Nationalities in the Western China. (Chinese Title: Western China Minorities Tribal Costumes. Deng Qi Yao. Si Chuan Jiao Yu Chu Ban She, Hong Kong, 1993.  230 pages, with innumerable high quality photos of costume items from most of the major groups. Text and captions are in Chinese only.  

The Art of Ethnography: A Chinese "Miao Album." Translation by David M. Deal and Laura Hostetler. Seattle, 2006. This is an illustrated translation of a Chinese hand-painted folio from the eighteenth century that used prose, poetry, and detailed paintings to represent minority ethnic groups living in frontier regions under imperial Chinese control. It has eighty-two illustrations from the original album along with the corresponding Chinese calligraphic text and annotated English translations. Each entry depicts a different ethnic group residing in Guizhou. 178 pages.

Silver and Silk:  Textiles and Jewelry of Guizhou, China.  Phila McDaniel. La Jolla, CA, 2002.  This handsome Mingei Folk Art Museum publication documents both costumes and silver jewelry in the institution's collection. All of the pieces were gathered by Ms. McDaniel in Guizhou. The strength of the catalog is its full-page detail photos.  Most of the costumes are modern, with a sprinkling of earlier pieces.  English text. 216 pages, with innumerable color plates. 
National Pattern Arts of China. 1990. 312 pages; 607 color illustrations.  This is a picture book with no text, but captions  in Chinese and English. It surveys folklore patterning in China, and the vast majority of the examples are textile designs--both embroidered and woven. Geographic and ethnic origins are identified.
Ethnic Costume from Guizhou: Clothing Designs and Decorations from Minority Ethnic Groups in Southwest China. Huang Shoubao, 1987, Beijing. This very useful small book covers each of the main textile techniques used by the peoples of Guizhou province for their costumery: embroidery, brocade weaving and batik. Detail photos show work from several minority groups, not only Miao, but also Dong, Shui, Yi, Bouyei and Gejia. It is an informative small volume, written by the director of a Guizhou province folk art gallery.  104 pages; English text.

A Picture Album of China's Miao Costumes and Ornaments.  WU Shi Zhong. Guizhou Renmin Publishing, 2000, Guangzhou, Shenzhen.  This very large volume, with 628 pages, has hundreds of color photos of costumes, including details. It localizes current-day styles more precisely than some of the publications above, identifying 173 different Miao village costumes.  Chinese and English text.  
Chinese Embroidery: A World of Fable and Color. Wang Yarong. 1985, Tokyo. This small book is useful because it shows details in embroideries from all over China, comparing and contrasting styles.  Good attention is given to the minority textiles. Not everything is identified, but the subject choices are delightful.  A section on the embroidery stitches is included.  160 pages, with innumerable color photos.  English text. 

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