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Human Geography:Featured Costumes on Hainan Island

  • News source:This is Hainan
  • Author:Translated by Chen Shumin
  • Data:2019-05-30 17:36:33

The International Media Center of hinews.cn undertakes the mission of news, culture and education communication. Hinews.cn will launch bilingual articles on Hainan's human geography in both Chinese and English. Stay tuned for further update.

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Hainan Island has a relatively long period of hot days, and people living there usually wear simple and casual clothes with local elements. The clothing of the people in a place is related to its geography and climate.
 
The Costume of fisherwomen
 
As working for a long time in the hot days, the clothes of fisherwomen on Hainan Island is mainly thin and loose, and the blouse is usually light-hued.

 
Fisherwomen in Lingao County. ( Photo by Su Xiaojie/ Hainan Weekly)
 

In the fishing villages of Lingao County, fisherwomen still maintain traditional dress, wearing left side open garment with a round neckline, straight pants and a bamboo pointed hat with a wide brim, which seems beautiful and is easy for fisherwomen to walk and work. The straight pants are also called “lantern pants”, with loose crotch and trouser legs, which look like two floating lanterns. Such kind of pants are appropriate for rendering fishing production, during which the fishermen have large motion range, especially frequent motion of squatting. Pants are easy to be wet by seawater while the fishermen are working at the sea, then the loose trouser legs can be dried by the sea breeze soon. The pants for the fisherwomen are mainly in black color, while gray color for the fishermen.

According to the documents, the clothing of Hainan fishermen generally maintain the same style, easy to be identified, so that the fishermen traveling extensively can recognize their fellow countrymen by their dress. Deng Tianqing, a cultural scholar from Lingao County, said that there was a saying that “women from Xinying in Lingao County travel all over Southeast Asia”, they were engaged in business activities, and their dress was very impressive.

Due to the economic development, foreign culture and other factors, traditional clothing is rare in eastern and southern fishing area in Hainan while it is perpetuated in the western fishing area. The traditional clothing of fishermen most features the clothes of fisherwomen, which is left side open garment with a round neckline, short sleeves, with the buttons aligning on the left side and the bifurcations on the two bottom sides.

Fisherwomen in Lingao County. ( Photo by Su Xiaojie/ Hainan Weekly)

The clothing of fisherwomen in Lingao County is left side open, in order to avoid the clothes being twined with the fishing nets and lines when against the wind. The close-fitting garment with short sleeves, on one hand, is for the convenience of work. On the other hand, it can show the figure and beauty of fisherwomen. Thus the design well combines practical value and aesthetic effect.

Influenced by ocean culture and historical tradition, the clothes of fishermen in western Hainan Island and in eastern coastal Fujian province have similar style, but differ in some details of decoration. Fisherwomen in both two places usually wear short sleeves with left side open and round neckline , and baggy trousers, which is visually beautiful and easy to work at seaside. Thus, due to the the similar practical demands, fisherwomen in different places pursue similar style of clothes.

However, the details of decoration of the fisherwomen in western Hainan Island is distinctive. The veil is a necessity for the fisherwomen. Because it is windy and sunny at the seaside, the fisherwomen wear the veils to protect their face from basking.

Along this coastline on the island, it is frequent to see the fishermen wearing a wide-brimmed hat work at the seaside. The wide-brimmed hat is a must for fishermen to go out. Due to the fierce sunshine and rainy climate in southern China, the fishermen depend on the hat while working at the seaside where there is no shelter. Thus the hat must be very large, with the diameter of 80 cm, which seems like an umbrella. Such a large hat can shelter almost half of the body from sunshine and rain. The large hat is waterproof, which requires high-quality materials and craftsmanship.

According to the professionals, the hat will be too heavy if all made of bamboo, while the bamboo skeleton filled with reeds can make the hat surface tightly closed. After finishing weaving, the outer layer of hat will be brushed over a layer of oil, to prevent seawater corrosion and rain leakage. The hat should be fastened to the head, with a belt tightened to the chin, for it’s usually windy at the sea or port. Author saw the farmers wearing similar hats with a smaller diameter of about 50 cm at the suburban Haikou. The bamboo skeleton was filled with reed leaves that could be used to wrap the Zongzi. Some people wore pointed hats which were made of similar materials.

Generally, the clothes of fisherwomen in Hainan are simple and practical, featured in ocean colors. However, as the time goes by, their clothes have some changes, new styles replacing the traditional ones. They often wear rain-proof pants and rubber rain-proof boots.

At Baimajing town in Danzhou City, the fisherwomen at the dock still wear the wide-brimmed hat, but wear some casual clothes which they assume is comfortable. More often, they tend to wear kinds of short-sleeved shirt, with aprons around their waist. They also wear rubber rain-proof boots, which Hainanese like to call “rain-proof boot” or “water-proof boot”.

But some fisherwomen turn out to be a refreshing look at their time off, wearing leather boots and bright decorations such as watches, Buddha beads bracelets and jade bracelets. And the hats at work have been replaced with those colorful ones with soft cloth.

Costume as an identification

Costume of Li ethnic minority.

The costume of the ethnic minorities in Hainan is mostly kind of thick in deep colors. In the earlier times, there were some tree-barked clothes, which was fit for shuttling in the forest and mountains. Among the same ethic minority, such as Li minority, the dialects and clothes from different areas have some similarities, like the patterns of nature, but there are still some differences in details, such as the match of colors and length. Imagine that in the earlier periods, it was not so convenient for people to contact, and there was no ID card used to prove the identity of everyone. Thus then they would distinguish the identity of people from various areas through different dialects and clothes, something like the ID card.

Clothes are the necessity of daily life, while Li Jin, a folk brocade of Li ethic group, is the ice on the cake from normal life to some degree. People’s love for the nature and the fusion between people and nature can be presented in the Li Jin. Li Jin was treasure for the trade from home and abroad in Qing Dynasty. Qu Dajun, a scholar in Qing Dynasty, noted in his work Guangdong Xin Yu, “this kind of brocades from Hainan Island is made of the brocades in Wu and Yue areas, which consist of the fine thread, and they are woven into some characters, flowers and birds, as well as some verses, this is so-called Li brocades.”

The ethnic minorities in Hainan have always paid much attention to the decoration in their costume. According to the documents, Li people are the earliest inhabitants living in Hainan, whose generations live in the central part of the island, Wuzhishan area, and the southwestern part of the island. In the long course of history, their distinctive custom and costume gradually come into being. Men wrap their heads with red or black cloths, wear open-front jacket, and tie up the linen around their waists. And the costume of women there has different branches, but the tube skirts are their common clothes. Tattoo is one of the custom of the women from Li ethnic minority.

Miao ethnic minority in Hainan mostly live in the central mountain area of the island, whose ancestors were the heirs of the soldiers of Li people who came from Guangxi province to Hainan for garrisoning in Ming Dynasty. With the main color of azure blue, the costume of Li people features delicate embroidery craft, various patterns, beautiful colors, and other national characteristics. Wax-dyeing is one of folk craft with long history in Li ethnic minority. The first step of wax-dyeing is to draw the patterns on the cloth with a wax, and then to dye the cloth. The patterns can be seen after dyeing the wax. The wax-dyeing is commonly used to make clothes, skirts, headscarves, aprons, bedsheets, etc., and the patterns vary from flowers, birds, insects, fish, rivers, mountains and rivers, as well as fields, which can show the Miao people’s pursuit of natural beauty.

Responsible editor: 刘娉
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