Asia

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Thailand avaSome people say that most Asian costumes are so much alike that you can’t really tell the difference between their clothing cultures. In a sense, they are right – some neighboring Asian countries have very similar national outfits. But they are definitely not identical. To prove that point, we’re offering you a short info and photos of the traditional female costumes of Southeast Asia: Brunei, Malaysia, Cambodia, Indonesia, Laos, Myanmar, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam.

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Cambodia avaAsian countries have a lot in common, especially in traditional clothing. Of course, their cultures vary pretty much, but national costumes are often very similar. We'd like to tell you about five interesting Asian countries and their traditions in clothing. Cambodia, Laos, Malaysia, Philippines, and Brunei. Can you name their national attire? After reading this article, you will.

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Jamdani avaOne of the most delicate and beautiful fabrics in the world, hand-woven on a loom, is a Jamdani – traditional muslin cloth of Bangladesh. This fabric is used today to make sarees, which serve as the folk clothing in this country. What’s interesting about Jamdani? For example, it takes 2 weavers to work simultaneously on one loom. Also, the craftsmen don’t draw their patterns before weaving – they, like, improvise.

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Kira avaWomen in Bhutan wear modest and elegant clothing. And the main garment is called the “kira”. It is an ankle-long woven and stitch fabric dress worn by the local women. Let’s see how to put the kira and other elements of Bhutanese traditional costume on. Including typical Bhutanese jewelry pieces. The cut and design of various traditional clothing articles of Bhutan are rather unique, you can see some common features in these garments.

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female avaBhutanese female folk attire is rather feminine-looking and easy to wear. Though, draping the dress properly can be a bit tricky. As many Asian national outfits, the dress is tight-fitting and visually elongate the woman’s body, making the female appear taller than she really is. To put on the traditional women’s costume of Bhutan, you’ll need only 5 items – garments and accessories. Let’s find out which and how to wear them.

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gho avaBhutanese men’s folk costume is charismatic and unusual. You definitely notice the shoes – beautifully adorned works of art. But the whole attire sure will draw a look. It consists of an under jacket called “tego”, a robe called “gho”, a fabric belt called “kera”, a large silk scarf called “kabney”, and boots called “tshog lham”. We would like to show you these garments and the whole costume and add some curious details about it.

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Cambodian textile avaCambodian traditional silk ikat weaving was on the brink of extinction when a Japanese craftsman Kikuo Morimoto found out about it and decided to master this craft. He created a community where artisans from different regions of Cambodia live, work, and teach. This is a story that shows us that the proverb “No man is an island” is wrong – one person can influence the whole country’s culture. Every single artisan matters in the context of traditional crafts.

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Dagestan avaDagestan is one of those regions in the Caucasus that are so rich in clothing traditions. The folk outfits here were bright, multilayered, and densely embellished. The clothing customs in this area can easily surprise you. For example, have you heard about false sleeves being used as pockets or actual tiny pockets inside the coifs? What about trousers sewn from several different types of fabric – visible and invisible part – to prolong the life of this garment and save the family budget?

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Hanfu reaction avaThese days, hanfu, the folk outfit of China, is in trend. A lot of Chinese young people started to wear traditional dress in public in day-to-day life. But will it change the attitude of ordinary people around them? And, in general, how do the Chinese usually react to youngsters wearing hanfu? Do they support or judge it? Here is a cool experiment – three volunteers put hanfu on and went out in the streets of Shanghai to see the reaction of locals. And some of the respondents’ answers might surprise you.

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Chinese hairpiece avaThe Chinese always estimated their beautiful thick and strong hair. In ancient times, women would never cut their hair short unless it’s the only means to survive. And during many Chinese ruling dynasties, fashion dictated that large hairstyles and ornate headdresses were worn. Many of these hairdos needed false hair inserts and various hairpins to hold everything in place. So, where did they get the wigs and hairpieces if no one was selling their own hair?

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Mandarin collar avaModern Chinese folk clothing usually has a standing collar or so-called “Mandarin collar”. But this style wasn’t always present in China’s national costume. For centuries, the Chinese wore outfits with crossed collars, which transformed into standing collars with time. How and when did it happen? And what are the difficulties of wearing such a collar? – you won’t believe it, but there are some! Read about it below. Also, there’s a fine tutorial on Ming dynasty lady’s costume wearing.

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Hanfu avaYoung people in China today are returning to the traditional Hanfu – folk clothing of Han ethnic group, which makes up almost 92% of the country. The local youth even created the Hanfu movement, aimed to renew the usage of traditional clothing by people. Many of the Chinese believe in conspiracy theories about a secret Manchu (Chinese minority) plot to usurp the Han Chinese. But conspiracy theories or not, the Hanfu movement helps to keep and popularize ancient-old clothing traditions, and that’s good for Chinese culture.

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Miao silver2 avaThe Miao people are known far outside the Chinese border because of their ancient traditions and their strong desire to preserve those customs. They still wear their folk costumes and striking silver accessories, especially for their weddings. The Miao wedding is something totally special. Not that often you can see 12-13 kg of silver jewelry on a bride, right? The Miao traditional wedding headdresses are wonderful – large, intricate, and very skillfully made.

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Chinese Hanfu avaChinese official national costume is called “hanfu”. It had 4,000 years of development, changes, and improvement. That’s why there are about 15 different designs of hanfu, and each one seems more elegant and good-looking than the other. Unfortunately, today the majority of Chinese don’t use their traditional clothes or even don’t know much about it. So this ancient magnificent culture might be forgotten one day in the future.

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Da Xiu Shan avaDid you know that back in Ancient China men actually wore dresses? But what's really interesting about Chinese culture is that throughout every dynasty in Chinese history, the style of clothing would adapt to the new dynasty and will last until the end of that dynasty. So, we can easily tell what time it belongs to by the vintage outfit’s design, color, and adornments.

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Hmong headdress avaToday, we’ll show you how to wear one of the traditional headdresses of the White Hmong people. This headwrap is rather simple but very elegant and cute. It accentuates the exotic features of these women. This variation of a turban, used by the Hmong, is embellished with beautiful traditional embroidery that adds a hint of authenticity to it.

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Tibetan style embroidery avaWhy are many folk crafts dying these days? One of the reasons is that handmade products are more expensive than factory-made, mass-produced things, so people tend to buy cheaper clothes and décor. But handmade products are unique and certainly much more interesting than manufactured ones. That’s why lots of people around the world make a business on handicrafts. In Tibet, there is a company that specializes in Tibetan traditional embroidery and is very profitable. It earns about $163,000 per year.

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Bouyei embroidery avaOne of many Chinese ethnic groups – the Bouyei people – has a very developed folk craft of embroidery. These double-sided embroidered cloths are bright, expressive, and very pretty. Local girls learn how to embroider at a young age and most of them continue to work during their whole life. Bouyei people are interesting because, living in China, they consider themselves Tai, and their culture is closer to Tai then to Chinese.

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Yang Huazhen avaToday, we’d like to introduce you to the Tibetan and Qiang embroidery. These samples of embroidery definitely are worth seeing – they are bright, cheerful, highly detailed, and deeply spiritual. You could look at them for hours, distinguishing every small object from the whole picture, every stitch, and every embroidery technique. The craftswoman who is engaged in the Tibetan and Qiang embroidery for years – master Yang Huazhen – will share some of her knowledge about these techniques with us.

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Daily hanfu avaThis is a story of one Chinese girl Tongzhou Zhuo (or Jerry) who lives in Australia right now and is promoting the Chinese traditional hanfu – national dress of China. She knows a lot about her native costume and is glad to share with other people. She will speak about the difference between the daily hanfu and the traditional hanfu, about the hairdos worn with a hanfu, about funny and not very pleasant situations that happened with her when she was wearing a hanfu, etc. In short, it’s always interesting to learn someone’s POV and the story of life.

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Miao avaThe Miao people, who live in China, pass their legends, traditions, and history with a help of embroidery – they don’t have their own written language. The Miao embroidery patterns are diverse and symbolic. Also, the craft of making a Miao folk costume is so time-consuming that it can take the whole life, or even several generations, to make one. But the result is absolutely stunning. Their clothing pieces are so bright, rich, and beautiful that you can spend hours examining them and singling out the images and symbols in the embroidery.

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Li Weaving avaIn China, there is an interesting ethnic group – Li people. Traditionally, they master in growing cotton and producing cotton weavings. Local women are involved in every stage of the process. It is so exciting to watch these females work with authentic tools, use old traditional weaving techniques and patterns, wear their folk costumes, etc. It’s a pity that every year fewer and fewer Li women learn how to work with handicrafts.

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Hair embroidery avaI’ll never tire to say that the Chinese culture can be unique and even strange for a European, American, or African mind. But the combination of Chinese and Tibetan cultures is doubly remarkable. See for yourself. This article is dedicated to a really extraordinary craft – hair embroidery. The craftswoman uses her hair as threads. Though, it’s not a joke or some eccentric modern art – it’s an ancient craft that is based on a deep meaning and symbolism, on mantras, and spirituality.

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kuitou avaChinese traditional opera is very unique. And one of the most important crafts in this area is the headdress making. The headgear used by Chinese actors is gorgeous – massive pieces are richly decorated and eye-catching but extremely lightweight at the same time. It requires a great skill to produce a good kuitou – traditional headdress used in Chinese opera. The craftsmen invent the design, produce every piece by hand, and alter it at the request of the actor who uses the kuitou.

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Chinese wed avaThe most special clothing. Maybe you’ll only wear it once in your life. The most important dress in a woman’s life – a wedding gown. China has some strong tradition regarding the folk wedding dress. For instance, the color of the main garment should be red and the embroidery is made in gold threads. Every Chinese wedding outfit is perfect in its authenticity and peculiar Oriental beauty.

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Dynasty avaThe history of China displays a huge list of rulers and ruling dynasties. Each of them had its own features, cultural values, customs, and clothing traditions. The latter is the most important for us. Let’s see the difference between the folk costume of various Chinese dynasties, including the main garments, outerwear, headdresses, accessories, hairdos, and other items of the traditional outfit of China. We’ve got some great photos to illustrate the diversity of Chinese national garments.