The elegant pleated skirts of Miao Ethnic Group
The Miaos have tubular skirts, girdle skirts, pleated skirts and many other kinds of skirts, and pleated skirt is the most characteristic one in them.
Pleated skirt is a kind of skirt the body of which has hundreds or even thousands of close and vertical pleats. It is beautiful and artistic but complicated to make. Most women like to wear it except women in the Western Hunan. It was said that Miao women generally wore tubular skirts in ancient times, and they changed to make pleated skirts on the basis of distinction inside Miao, in order that their clothes were different from those of other nationalities and were easy to distinguish. A legend ” The Origin of Pleated Skirts” which is spread in the middle region of Guizhou said: in ancient times, skirts of Miao and Han were of no difference. In order to distinguish them, a mother and daughter decided to sew a special skirt to symbolize the Miaos. They thought for a long and hard time. Later they were inspired by the colorful green bacillus on the slope, made a skirt according to the pleats of the bacillus and wore it to the flower site to thread on flowers (a kind of recreational activity). The Miao sisters saw it and all applauded and praised it. Then they all learned to sew and wear pleated skirts. So pleated skirts spread all over the Miao villages, and women in different branches of the Miaos began to wear pleated skirts of different length.
The pleated skirt of Miao is consummately made and the pleats are close and rich. Some even have thousands of pleats. The body of the skirt is straight on vertical side and swingy on horizontal side. There are colorful designs and figures embroidered on it. For example: pleated skirts in Huangping Guizhou are usually made of narrow hand-woven dark purple cloth, which is 16-26 meters long and woven and dyed by themselves. The process of making is: put hand-woven cloth on grassland or sunning mat, spray the juice of hyacinth bletilla on it and fold it into pleats of the same size. Then spray the juice again and finalize the design with white thread stringing the pleats together. The skirt is composed of head, body and edge. Among them the edge is the most beautiful and important part. The edge is made of four lines of horizontal figures from the downward up: the first line is ” little humans figure”; the second line is” birds’ wings figure” and the third and forth lines are ” dragon figures”. The first and second are embroidered lines, and the third and forth are woven lines.
The Miaos’ pleated skirts can be divided into three kinds according to the length: long, mid-length and short skirts. Long skirts reach the instep, mid-length skirts exceed the knees and short skirts don’t reach the knees. A kind of short skirt worn by Miao women in Leishan is only about 20 centimeters, and the people wearing it are called ” short skirt Miao”.
There is a legend about the origin of short skirt in the region: in ancient times, there was a very handsome and brave hunter in a Miao village. Once he hunt and got a very beautiful pheasant, and he sent it to his beloved girt — Abang. In order to express her deep affection to the young man, Abang wove cloth and stitched and embroidered flowers according to the golden pheasant. She made a florid short skirt and decorated herself as beautiful as the golden pheasant. After that, girls nearby learned to make and wear the rich-colored and mythical embroidered short skirt.