The People's Republic of China officially recognizes 56 nationalities which make up their population. The Han people speaking dialects of Chinese comprise approximately 91% of the population, while the minority nationalities belonging to various other linguistic groups compose the remaining 9%. The Miao, Dong, Zhaung, Yi, Yao, Hani, Buyi, and Maonan. Living in mountainous areas of the southwestern provinces of Guizhou, Guangxi, Hunan, Yunnan, and Sichuan are the main minorities whose incredible work are represented here. The Chinese minorities are discerned by their endless variation of textiles in striking colors. The ethnic minority of approximately ten million people, live in the south eastern provinces Yunan, Hunan and Guizhou. They came from the North of China, but purchased by hostile neighbors they ought to flee their place of origin. They found refuge in high mountains and remote little villages. A part of them moved to Vietnam, Laos and Thailand. Considering the isolation in which they lived, their traditions and customs (and thus their textiles too) are quite diversified. Aprons, coats, head covers, decorative panels and different kinds of blankets are executed in different techniques: embroidery, chain stitch, or patching different pieces of cloth to create a fascinating asymmetric kaleidoscope.
Chinese symbols and their meanings in textiles
Birds, Bats and Butterflies of Chinese Textiles looks at the felicitous messages found in Chinese folklore and mythology, often based on Confucian, Taoist or Buddhist canons and beliefs. Chinese textile designs illustrating these messages often favor motifs with double meanings or verbal puns that result in intricate, colorful, and inter-related designs that reflect a strong sense of cultural tradition. Birds symbolize the literary refinement of the scholars with the ability to fly towards heaven. One of the Twelve Imperial Symbols is a three-legged bird in a red circle representing the sun. Bats are understood to represent luck. The word “bat” in Chinese sounds identical to the word for “good fortune.” A bat brandishing a swastika on a ribbon is a visual rebus depicting “10,000 blessings. Butterflies imply long life, beauty, and elegance. A pair symbolizes love, specifically young love, or an undying bond between lovers, and embroidered on garments strengthens the energy of love. A reliance on the heavens, principals of duality, harmony of nature and a universe reflecting a cosmic balance are reoccurring themes.