Hand embroidery
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Hand embroidery

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The Miao ethnic minority group is world-renowned for their elaborate hand-embroidered costumes — a female tradition dating back over 1000 years. Young girls will learn the embroidery techniques from their mothers, who themselves learned it from their mothers. Their costumes can take up to two years to complete, are worn for over 20 years, and are then handed down to their children as family heirlooms.

The Miao also use embroidery as a tool to pass down their oral history, as they traditionally do not have a written language. Instead, they use auspicious patterns in their fabrics to orally convey the story of their people. Their history is, literally, written on their cloth.

Their unique textiles and costumes are now collected by leading international institutions around the world, including The Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York), The British Museum (London), and Musée du Quai Branly (Paris).

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