1950s Miao Embroidered Silk Jacket
This is a very fine example of a ceremonial jacket made by the Miao people of southern China (also known as Hmong). This particular style is from the Taijiang reigion. The embroidery is known as Dazixiu or Dazi embroidery, which is very similar to the Chinese "forbidden stitch" though the Dazi uses couched and overcast cords to border the tiny knots. Unlike the Chinese embroideries that are figurative, the Miao design more abstract and highly spiritual motifs as you can see in this jacket with its very elaborate, and nearly psychedelic motifs. Amongst the foral motifs, there are birds which signify prosperity. I have also noticed a very stylized butterfly motif which is important as the Maoi believe the butterfly is the ancestor of all living things, and is a symbol of motherhood and the inter-connectivity of all life. The embroideries were sewn in strips, then applied to the jacket, as is customary. It is said that these garments are made by one woman, and that they can take years to create. The quality of this jacket's needle work is incredible. I have never seen such tiny stitches in this style embroidery. Between the strips of embroidery are fine ribbons, adorned with tiny dots of embroidery, and colorful zig-zag stitches, all done by hand. The fabric of the jacket is a lustrous burgundy silk with Chinese symbols. The sleeves are finished with rich, purple satin, the lining is black cotton typical to the region. The choice of fabrics so fine is not usual for these jackets, and compliments the very fine needle work. The jacket is designed to be worn overlapped in the front which is why the embroidery is unbalanced along the lapels. The high collar I have seen worn up against the neck, and also drawn down between the shoulder blades, and I imagine this has something to do with how hot or cold the day is. The Miao women would wear a jacket like this with a wide belt and a colorful skirt, but it looks lovely worn with jeans and boots. It is impossible to pinpoint a date on this piece. I know it is after 1890 as suggested by the use of the bright pink dye, and I don't think it is a modern piece as the interest in the art of needlework by modern Miao women has been dropping, so work of this caliber is nearly lost. I am dating it to the 1950s based on the purple silk satin of the sleeves which usually is seen in dresses from that time.
condition - excellent
no size - one size fits most
approximately 44" across the chest
27" length down the back
37" length down the front