The Clothes Sewed with Bunches of Shellfish Pearls

The dress of Gaoshan ethnic group is gorgeous, rich colorful. Traditional clothing styles include pass- through- head clothing, Jiaoling clothing, corselet, undershirt, long sleeves jacket, skirt, etc. Men and women of all tribes have a particular interest with ornament, which has a lot of varieties, such as head ornaments, forehead ornaments, ear ornaments, neck ornaments, chest ornaments, waist ornaments, arm ornaments, hand ornament, foot ornament, etc. The ornaments materials are mainly natural things, such as shellfish pearls, shellfish cell shell, glass balls, pig teeth, bear teeth, feather, beast skin, bamboo tubes, flowers, etc. Among them, the shellfish is most extensively used. They can be not merely stringed together directly into a lot of ornaments, but also sewed onto the jackets in clusters to make precious shellfish clothes by Taiya people and Saixia people.

Shellfish clothes are in fact made up of two pieces of burlaps, sewed with bunches of shellfish pearls. Its manufacturing method is just as follows: firstly, cut the shell into small thin slices; then grind them carefully into the pearl shape; after that, string every grain of small shell pearl together and sew them onto the front and either side of burlap garment, sometimes even onto the whole. It is called the shellfish clothes, shellfish pearl clothes or pearl clothes. Each piece of shellfish clothes requires tens of thousands of to hundreds of thousands of shell pearls. The process of making a piece of shellfish clothes is complicated and difficult, and requires lots of time and energy. As a result, it features a symbol of power and wealth and can only be possessed by the tribe chiefs and rich people in the past. Now the only collections are kept in the national museum of the Central University for Nationalities and the anthropology museum of the Xiamen University.