Yynuo Clothing

You see color from afar, pattern nearby.   - Nuosu proverb
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Women

Old Woman's Skirt by Sseggemo Qugo


Family Heirloom

This skirt was made by Ssege Moguge, a seamstress from Leibo County who died in the 1980s at the age of 83. When she died, the skirt was inherited by her daughter, who kept it for over a decade as a memento of her mother. It's relatively muted colors mark it for a middle-aged or older woman.

Description:
Five paneled skirt. First panel tan cotton, 14cm wide, slightly gathered at waist with two short straps for tying. Second panel blue cotton fabric, 24cm wide, gathered. Third panel red cotton fabric, 23cm wide. Fourth panel dark blue, pleated, 16cm wide. Fifth panel light blue, pleated, 29cm wide. At 9.5cm from bottom of skirt, with unfinished edge, a black strip 0.75cm wide has been hand stitched horizontally over the light blue fabric. The bottom 8cm of the skirt have been overlaid with black cotton fabric 8cm wide. Skirt does not have a vertical seam but is open.

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Skirt by Jiqu Jihlo

Aristocratic Orange:
In the Yynuo region, men's and women's clothing, jackets and skirts in particular, often feature fabric or needlework in bright orange. This skirt, which traditionally could be worn only by a woman of the aristocratic, or Nuoho caste, combines the bright orange with the black color symbolic of aristocracy.

Description:
Five panelled skirt without a side seam or bottom hem. First panel is natural cotton, 16cm wide, with a drawstring at top. Second panel is black, 16cm wide, and gathered towards third panel which is red and 29cm wide. Fourth panel is orange in color, 38cm wide, pleated and flaring towards bottom panel. A narrow strip of black cotton is attached over the orange section 0.5cm from fifth panel. The bottom panel is black, also pleated, 20cm wide. it is lined with red cotton fabric.
Made by Jiqu Jihlo, of Meigu County.

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Middle-Aged Woman's Jacket by Legge Kuly

Subdued Color:
This Jacket, made by Legge Kuly, of Meigu County, combines the characteristic Yynuo neck decoration pattern, with a deep V on the left side and a right-side frog-closing, and the subdued coloring of a middle-aged woman's clothes. It would typically be worn with a red collar.

Description:
Jacket of dark blue cloth, closure on right side with two red "frog" closures at neck and three on right side. Sleeves have been cut separately and sewn to jack body. Two of the decorative rows consist of insets in blue and yellow, overlaid with two black strips couched. Sleeves are 49.5cm long and repeat the inset/couched strip design at 31cm from sleeve edge, at 22cm and at 13.5cm.

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Middle-Aged Woman's Jacket by Hxilie Ago

Intricate Couched Needlework
This Jacket, made by Hxielie, of Meigu County, demonstrates the equisite skill of Nuosu seamstresses in the needlework technique known as couching, in which colored threads are twisted into braided patterns and then sewn on to a fabric base in intricate designs. The purples and blues on a black backround give a subdued effect appropriate to a middle-aged wearer.

Description:
Black velvet jacket, right side closure with two "frog" braided closures at neck and three on right side. A 9cm to 24cm wide embroidered band encircles neck opening following to side closure. Decoration starts 6cm from neck opening with a 2.5cm wide couched design in green. Next is a 2.5cm wide couched design in purple followed by a single braided line in white and one in red .The outside couched band is done in light blue yarn, the pattern suggesting "waves". Side vent is 12cm long. Sleeves are set in and are 43.5cm long, 50cm wide. The black velvet shows a repeat of the light blue couched decoration 9.5cm from armhole. A 4.75cm wide strip of maroon colored velvet is set next to it, decorated with a 1.5cm wide design done in black. Next to that is a 18cm wide panel of black velvet decorated with three "fern" designs in blue. Ferns are common symbols in Nuosu culture. They are valued because they appear in early spring and have many offspring who stay close by. Below fern design is a 2.75cm wide design in purple repeating the "wave" pattern. Sleeve ends consist of 9.5cm wide section of bright blue corduroy fabric with two rows of waves done in black yarn.

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Collar by Jiqu Jihlo

Freestanding Collar
As with Western collars a century ago, Nuosu collars are separate from the shirts or vests with which they are worn. They are often fastened with a gie or collar plate. Young women's collars are usually made of cotton or felt in red or other bright colors while middle-aged and old women's collars are made of blue cloth.

Description:
Standing collar of red cotton cloth edged with black cotton fabric. There are seven units of emboidered designs, executed in black and pink. Each unit shows three circles in black over red collar, the outer circle surrounded by "starburst" like triangles, outlined in black and filled with pink straight stitches. Collar is lined with brown fabric and is stiff.

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Mother's Hat by Ssesse Qugo

A Sign of Motherhood
Traditional hat of Yynuo married woman who has given birth. Nuosu women change their headdress from head cloths to hats after they give birth to their first child. Hats of this kind are called "lotus-leafed hats".

Description:
Handmade. A blue cotton cloth is first cut into eight triangles. Each piece is sewn together along the edges to form the round crown of the hat. The hat has a layered lining. An arrow-shaped strip made of several colors of cloth is attached to the center of the hat where a round cloth button or a silver disc is sewn.

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Collar by Luoti Shymo

Enhancing Beauty:
Nuosu believe that a long neck is beautiful; therefore Nuosu women pay a lot of attention to neck decoration. Most Nuosu collars are free-standing, and can be switched from one shirt or jacket to another. Often collars are fastened with a silver plate. This collar is an exquisite example of Nuosu cross-stitch technique.

Description:
Black twill standing collar bound in same fabric. At one edge one row red-green-red fine cross stitch, above which is a geometric triangular design with a "tail" embroidered from apex of triangle in white cross stitch. There are thirteen triangle shapes. Back is lined in white fabric, basting stitches in place.

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Collar by Vazha Vuga

Enhancing Beauty:
Nuosu believe that a long neck is beautiful; therefore Nuosu women pay a lot of attention to neck decoration. Most Nuosu collars are free-standing, and can be switched from one shirt or jacket to another. Often collars are fastened with a silver plate. The brightly embroidered floral patterns set off the otherwise somber tone of this older woman's collar.

Description:
Standing collar with stiff linterface and multi colored lining. The collar is edged with black cotton fabric and embroidered with yarns of many colors. Decorations show nine eight-petaled flowers, with abstract shapes interspersed.

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Conical Hat by Jihni Molu

Woven from Bamboo:
Nuosu men and women are expert weavers of bamboo, making many kinds of baskets and trays as well as hats. A young woman would wear this kind of hat over her headcloth when going out to market or going visiting. It serves both to keep off the sun and rain and to top of a festive outfit.

Description:
The hat is a conical shape made of geometrically woven split bamboo. The top of the hat is shaped into a small cylinder and decorated with a tassel of orange colored woolen threads, 38cm long. The threads are placed over a smaller tassel of multi colored synthetic strands gathered at the top and fed through a small, a large and another small bead. The heads of the threads are brought through the bamboo hat and tied in a knot together a few inches inside the hat, holding the tassel in place. A single line of black yarn is stitched around the outer edge of the top of the cone.

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Men

Young Man's Jacket by Jiqu Jihlo

Blazing Orange:
Yynyo men's and women's clothing, jackets and skirts in particular, often feature fabric or needlework in bright orange. Velvet has become a popular fabric since it has been available in local markets beginning in the 1980s.

Description:
A black velvet jacket decorated only on front and sleeves. All design work is carried out by couching braids to the lined jacket front and cuffs. Sleeves are narrow and use an 18cm long zipper for closing at the wrist. On festive occasions, many young men would wear this kind of jacket, topped by a jieshy pleated cape or a fringed vala.

Made by Jiqu Jihlo, of Meigu County.

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Pants by Vazha Vuga

Big Pants:
The Yynuo area is also known as the "big pants" area because of the men's traditional billowy, culotte-like trousers. If is rare to see these pants today, except on performers in stage shows and at banquets.

Description:
Pants are machine sewn of blue cotton cloth, gathered at the waist with an elastic cord. The bottom 38cm of each pant leg consists of double fabric, no hem at edges. Two appliqued patches are 5cm in diameter and are done in black fabric over light inset and are couched in green braid. They are placed at the crotch of the pants.

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Shoulder Bag by Ssesse Gogo

Square Bag:
Nuosu men and women both carry fancy needlework bags; men's bags are usually carried over their shoulders. A young Yynuo man might carry small items in a square bag such as this.

Description:
A rectangular bag with eleven tassels at bottom. Front is made of black velvet with a decorative inset of red corduroy surrounded by 5cm wide fields of black velvet showing the "fern" design which is couched in red braids. Center design consists of four fields in identical applique of black curved shapes in which braids are couched. The very center is a circle couched in green braid showing eight spokes. Top of bag has a zipper for closing. The shoulder strap is woven of red and green wool yarn and is 3cm wide and 119cm long .There is a green and red tassel, 8cm long, on either side of bag at place of attachment.

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Saddle Blanket

Pervasive Design:
The pervasiveness of design in Nuosu culture is illustrated by this humble saddle-blanket, which serves as padding between the saddle and the horse's back. This blanket belonged to the famous bimo priest Qubi Shuomo [1918-2002] who sold the saddle and the blanket when he got too old to ride to go perform his rituals. The blanket is hand-sewn from commercial cloth.

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Children


Child's Hat by Ssesse Qugo

Protection and Decoration:
The most elaborate children's hats are made in the Yynuo area, where most babies and small children wear them to this day. Boys and girls wear the same kinds of hats, which protect their head from cold and wind. The fern pattern embroidered on the hat symbolizes the good wishes toward the child and the idea of the idea of the proliferation of descendents with the clan.  

Description: This hat is hand tailored with a layered lining. The surface is appliqued with fern patterns. The hat has a wavy brim and is decorated with a tassel on the back. The hat looks like a rooster in profile. The comb in the front, the arched crown at the top and the feather tail on the back set off the child's cuteness. An orange braid is stitched on to the edges of the black "tail", showing a design called "Monster's Fingernails". These recall the female monster, Cochomoama, who is said to capture children who misbehave. Nuosu women embroider this design on clothing to protect the wearer from evil.

See:
Mountain Patterns, by Stevan Harrell, Bamo Qubumo, and Ma Erzi. 2000. Plate 12.

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Child's Hat by Lege Mama

Protection and Decoration:
The most elaborate children's hats are made in the Yynuo area, where most babies and small children wear them to this day. Boys and girls wear the same kinds of hats, which protect their head from cold and wind. Sometimes an eagle feather is also placed in the crown of the hat to ward of evil influences.

Description:
Child's hat with frontal plackard in maroon velvets with a very intricate black applique design couched in gold cord. Top of front plackard comes to nine points representing "Cockscomb" motif each having a fuschia colored pompoms, wrapped with yellow yarn,atop it. Back of hat is triangular, black velvet and maroon corduroy with hot pink silk tails, 23.5cm long. Tails are pinned to the velvet which also ends in pompoms.Crown of hat is red corduroy, 10.5cm square decorated with six pompoms in white, green and multi--color. Hat is lined with cotton cloth in a floral pattern.

See:
Mountain Patterns, by Stevan Harrell, Bamo Qubumo, and Ma Erzi. 2000. Plate 12.

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