Trip Review for China

Hats with Meanings

In the thick forest of the Grand and Small Xing An Moutain in China, there live E’lunchun people who use animal fur to make clothes for generations. Elunchun people’s clothes are almost all made of roe fur. In autumn and winter, they use roe captured in autumn and winter, which has a stronger winterproofing capacity because of its long and thick fur hair and thick and strong skin. Roe fur worn in summer use roes captured in summer because of its thin and short fur hair.

Roe fur clothes of Elunchun people include roe robes, coats, trousers, boots, socks, gloves, aprons, waistcoats, and even satchels. These are all made of roe fur. Among these fur clothes, the most characteristic one is the roe head hat. A roe head hat is made by a piece of complete roe head fur. The traditional way is first to peel off the skin from the roe head and the head fur was then coated with animal liver smashed into mushy paste or deadwood dregs mixed with water after being dried. Then the fur is rolled up and covered tightly for one or two days to soften and ferment the adhesive materials like fat on the skin. The decayed stuff was then scraped off and the fur is kneaded repeatedly until the fur softens. Two black pieces of leather skin are sewed to the eye socket parts as eyes. Two ears were sliced off and replaced by two fake ears made by roe skin. In this way, a lifelike roe head hat is finished. Using fake ears for the roe head hat is to meet the needs of hunting – a roe head hat is the best camouflage for hunting. When a hunter hides in the forest with only roe head hat being exposed, wild roes often drop their guard because they consider him as their same kind. Hence it is easy for hunters to hunt for prey when they enter into their field of vision. If a roe head hat uses real ears, then other hunters will be confused, which may cause shots by accident.

Daur people who live in the northeast of China also love to use animal fur to make fur hats. Besides roe heads, they also use fox and wolf fur to make hats. Ewenke people who have been living in rich forest, grassland and valley south of the Erguna River in northeast China for generations also wear beast head hats. Besides using roe heads, they also use the fur of Mongolian dog and deer. The style is rugged and lifelike. Using real animal heads to make animal head hats could be considered a typical costume feature among northeast nomadic nationalities, which is closely related with their commercial activity.

Occupying the highest position in general costume image, hats that well display the costume culture are paid particular attention. Some hats record the origin of their nationalities; some display the intelligence of their people; some concern the local weathers; and some signify the social position or commercial conditions of their wearers. Generally speaking, people exert great artistic talent on the design of hats. Whatever it displays, beauty is never neglected.

A Yugur felt hat is like an inverted horn. The horn opening extents outward to form a circle of round hat brim decorated with two rings of black silk ribbons. The horn mouth forms the hat crown. The crown is decorated with all kinds of patterns and unique red tassels. It is said that this type of hat is to commemorate a female hero in Yugur minority’s history. For the happiness of their people, she fought to the last blood against the devils. Red tassels in Yugur’s hats signify her fresh blood.

Yi girls who inhabit in the Red River area in Yunnan all have their cherished cockscomb hats. It is said that a loving couple fought against devils holding torches high, in order to seek for happiness and brightness and save country fellow from darkness. But unfortunately they fell into devil’s hands. Later, the girl escaped cleverly with the help of an old man. The old man taught her to make a cock to crow in order to call the sun out. The devils were then drive away. The girl saved her boyfriend and their country fellow also saw the brightness. In order to show their gratitude for the cock that saved their life, Yi people started to make cockscomb and put them on girls’ heads because they believe that cock could bring luckiness, brightness, safety and happiness to the world. Besides Yi minority, Hani minority and Bai Minority girls in Yunnan also like to wear cockscombs of similar shapes and styles.

There is a legend about kirgiz’ hats. In ancient time, there was a brave and sagacious king. He realized that in the battle, their national army troops were disorderly and unsystematic and hardly to be recognized because of their inconsistent clothes and hats. So he summoned all departments and ordered them to design a kind of unified hat for soldiers within 40 days. This hat should look like a shining star, a colorful flower, an ice peak covered with snow and a mountain slope covered with thick grass. It should be able to shield rain, snow, wind and sand. 39 days passed, nobody could design a kind of hat that satisfied both the king and the people. On the 40th day, the beautiful daughter of a royal consultant designed a decorative white felt hat. The king was very satisfied and ordered both his army and people to wear this kind of hat, which since then has been handed down for generations until now. This kind of hat is made of wool felt and in the shape of coiled eaves with either flat crown or spire crown of four ridges. There is a vent on both sides of the hat brim, which divide the hat brim into front and back part. If all brims are rolled to the top, the hat could shield snow and rain. If only the front brim is let down, the hat could shade the sunshine. And if both front and back brims are let down, the hat could shield wind and sand. Kirgizs consider this kind of hat as sacred hats. They hang them in high places or places not easily to be accessed when not wearing them. One could not throw or trample the hats or make joke on them, which were considered to be ill omened.

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