Miao bride: donning on lifetime belongings
The fine embroidery and intricate silver ornamentation of Miao ethnic minority wedding costumes impress many of the domestic and overseas visitors to Miao villages.
The Miao people invest their assets in silver jewelry, in the form of the ornately carved collars, lockets and bangles worn by Miao women, in accordance with the belief that, "women should be adorned with silver and flowers,"on their wedding day and other grand festive occasions.
Miao families begin collecting silver jewelry for their daughters as infants. They store it in a special wooden box in anticipation of her wedding day, when she displays her finery to the whole village. The bride's silver jewelry comprises a silver tiara hairpins, combs and earrings, silver chaplets and necklaces, a silver collar and chains, as well as rings and bangles worn on the wrist and ankles.
The bride's silver jewelry complements her finely embroidered wedding dress. The more she wears, the more beautiful she appears. As a wedding costume often includes 8-10 kg of exquisitely fashioned silver, it is a reflection of household wealth as well as feminine beauty. Silver jewelry is an easily transportable form of wealth for the Miao minority during seasonal moves.
Embroidery is a traditional Miao skill which mothers teach their daughters at age seven or eight. A Miao woman's ability to produce beautiful embroidery is as important a marriageable asset as that of being able to cook. The first work of embroidery a Miao maid takes up is her wedding gown, which she finishes on the day she marries The exquisite garment she wears on that day is considered an indicator of wifely capability. As such, it is an outfit she may wear once or twice more at grand festivals. Wedding gowns are often passed down through families, and constitute an aspect of family wealth.
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