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Art-Pacific (Carolyn Leigh - Ron Perry): Guide to Artifacts

Bai Minority Group Hats, Yunnan Province, China

[Phoenix (?) Detail: 19K]

The Bai women are excellent embroiderers and a girl's embroidery has been the measure of her skills. The women call it spreading flowers.

They combine stitches of all sorts with batik, tie dye, gold and silver plate thread, and 3-dimensional applique among other techniques. The Bai men dress like other men in China, but the Bai women proudly wear their traditional clothing and sell their work to neighboring ethnic groups and to visitors.

[Bai Woman's Hat with Fish Tail: 16K]

Each area has a slightly different style. "Those living in villages in Dali and hamlets on the eastern shores of Lake Erhai wear fishtail-shaped or phoenix-shaped caps....

A legend tells that there were once twin sisters in a Bai village who were pretty and diligent. At the time of a bumper harvest, their beauty attracted flocks of birds coming to bow to the phoenix, the king of birds. The gold phoenix gave its cap to the girls, which made them look even more beautiful. But the elder girl was caught by the jealous king and died in the palace.

To avenge her, her younger sister, wearing the phoenix cap, entered the palace and killed the tyrannical king. To remember the beautiful and industrious girl, women in some Bai areas wear phoenix-shaped caps even today."

[Metal Thread Detail: 10K]

Silver plate thread detail.

[Crest Detail: 28K]

Detail of front crest with uniquely Bai figure.

[Child's Hat: 15K]

This child's 3-dimensional applique butterfly hat has human hair for it's antennae.

[Lion (?) Hat: 39K]

A baby girl "wears colorful clothes, the embroidered goupiyi (baby clothes of the Bai that symbolize healthy development) made by her mother and grandmother" including a fishtail-shaped cap, or a phoenix-head or lion-head cap decorated with images of Buddhas or drums made of silver or jade (or green plastic) and patterns of animals, birds, flowers and fish.

[Lion detail: 10K]

The Bai people say, "A horse needs a saddle to look good; people need beautiful clothes".

[Lion (?) Hat: 34K]

All quotes are from Daughters of Mount Changshan and Erhai Lake, The Bais, by Yang Guocai.


Links in this site:

Browse China: Bai textiles/art: Bai baby-carriers | Bai hats | Bai woodblock prints

Order art on-line: dealers and galleries
Wholesale information for dealers


Melanesian art TOC | Map of art areas of Melanesia
Papua New Guinea: Highlands: body art - Bundi tapa - jewelry/dancers | Karawari and Blackwater Rivers: masks - carvings - map | Massim: artifacts- Trobriand Kula - map | Kula canoe | New Britain: Baining - Sulka - Tolai dukduk | New Ireland: Malagan | Ramu River: masks - carvings - map | Sepik River: masks - carvings - villages - map | Papuan Gulf: masks - carvings - map - Gogodala - Kukukuku
other areas: Asmat | Solomon Islands: crafts - jewelry - map
art and craft:
barkcloth (tapa) | body art | cane and fiber figures | canoes and prows | jewelry/dancers | masks - Middle Sepik | phallocrypts | pottery - Chambri | shields | story boards | suspension hooks | weapons | yam masks - fiber | yam masks - wood

Indonesian art TOC | Dyak baby carriers and masks | furniture | Java folk art | Lombok baskets | Lombok lontar boxes | masks from Bali and Java | puppets

China-Bai textiles TOC | baby carriers | baby hats | woodblock prints

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Artifacts on this site were collected in the field by my husband, Ron Perry. I take the photographs, do the html, text and maps. Background in Who We Are. Art-Pacific has been on the WWW since 1996. We hope you enjoy our New Guinea tribal art and Indonesian folk art as much as we do. by Carolyn Leigh is licensed under Creative Commons CC BY-ND 4.0