Black Clothing of Lahu Ethnic Group

The Lahu ethnic minority is descended from a branch of “the ancient Qiang (a people hunting in Qinghai, Gansu, Sichuan in ancient times) people,” who came down southward into Lancang River region. Their clothing also shows the changes of their history and culture, which included characteristics of the northern hunting culture and the southern farming culture.

In ancient times, both men and women wore robes. In modern and contemporary Lahu society, men wear collarless jackets, shirts of white or light color, long baggy trousers, and a black headband or a cap. Women’s costumes vary from one place to another. The women wear long robes with slits along the legs. They sew bright bands of colored cloth with silver balls or pieces as ornaments, or colorful strips around the slits and collar. Women in some areas are also fond of colorful waistbands. The above type of dress has inherited many features of the robe dress of northern groups. Another type is typically of southern features: jackets with narrow sleeves, straight skirt, black leg wrappings, and headbands of various colors.

Black color is highly esteemed as beautiful among the Lahus. Therefore, it is widely used as the ground color of most dresses, which are often decorated with different patterns made of colorful threads or strips. The whole dress often looks sober, yet still brilliant; its beauty gives a lasting aftertaste.