Felt hat and “niuda” of Tu Ethnic Group

The clothing and decorations of the Tu nationality harmonize the characteristics of animal husbandry and agricultural culture. They have unique styles and are bright and colorful. Most men between thirty and fifty years old wear gown with small collar and oblique front part, or embroidery high-collar white short gown, and black or purple sleeveless jacket and trousers. The women wear gown with high collar and oblique front part, the two sleeves are joined together by and made of multicolored cloth or silk. And they wear red skirts and trousers. Most of the collarband, front hem, cuff and lower hem are embroidered with large quantities of decorative patterns, which are bright-colored and beautiful. Besides, the characteristics of the head ornament of felt hat and women—“niuda”, are more distinguished.

It is the universal habit of the Tu people to wear round roll brim felt hats. The women felt hats are generally brown or white, the rolled brim is high and even, decorated with brocade lace, so they are called as “pulling gold lock” felt hats. The men felt hats are generally white or black, the most distinguished character is the back brim is rolled up, the front brim is extended out. The hats are in the shape of “hawk’s mouth pecking food”, which is lower in the front and higher in the back, so they get the name of “hawk’s mouth pecking food”. 

“Niuda” is the transliteration of the Tu nationality’s language, and means “head ornaments”. It refers to the traditional head ornaments of the women of the Tu nationality, and is mainly popular in Huzhu Tu nationality autonomous county in Qinghai province and other places. Its styles are in great variety, and there are about 8 to 9 representative types. “Tuhun niuda” is in the shape of solid food (round pancake), so it is also called as “solid food head”, and is the eldest and most honored head ornament of the Tu nationality.

Its manufacturing method: firstly make a round cloth whose diameter is about 23 to 24 centimeters, inlay it with triangle patterns that are made of colored cloth strips, the brim of round tray is decorated with two layers of colored threads and thin tassels, the front middle part is decorated with two bunches of colored tassels in the length of 14 to 15 centimeters. The back brim is thickly inserted with scores of and even almost a hundred sparkling steel needles. Before wearing it, connect two pieces of rectangle thin copper in the length of 14 to 15 centimeters and the width of 6 to 7 centimeters together with silk threads, and fasten it between the temples, and fasten a semi-lunar “sujirige” made of cow’s tail or long hair at the back part of the head. Then put on the “niuda”, place a silver-made “xiangdou” in the shape of a bowl with upside down, and tightly fasten the “xiangdou”, “niuda” and hair together with a silver clasp.

On the silver hair clasp on both sides of “xiangdou”, a bunch of long red thread tassels are hung. Then put on the big earrings made of silver, the whole head ornaments look gorgeous and luxurious. “Shige niuda” is in the shape of a big winnowing fan, so it is also called as “winnowing fan head ornament”. Its making method: firstly use a kind of soft and elastic splendid achnatherum to make frame, then paste with hard paper or coarse cloth. Gold and silver foil paper is pasted on the middle part of the surface, and many multicolored cloth strips with wrinkles are pasted, inlaid with a circle of mica sheets around it, scores of red silk tassels in the length of about 10 centimeters fall on both sides before the forehead. The most distinguished character of “naren niuda” is a three-pronged sword made of copper is erected at the back of the head, so it is also called as “three-pronged head ornament”.

The character of “jiasi niuda” is there is an erected decoration in share shape on the top, so it is also called as “share top head ornament”. Besides, there are “jiamu niuda”, “xuegulang niuda” and “suobudou niuda”, etc. However, during recent years, less and less women wear these traditional head ornaments. Most of the women of the Tu nationality often have their hair in two long braids and let them fall on the back, and wear roll brim felt hat with brocade lace on the head.