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Colorful Dresses and Personal Adornments

To common eyes, Mongolian dresses and personal adornments seem very simple, no more than a gown and a pair of boots. In fact, Mongolian dresses and personal adornments are rather complicated and colorful. They vary in forms and materials according to different regions, ages, status of marriage, and distinguish between splendid attire and common costume.

In general, Mongolian dresses and personal adornments mainly include: ornaments, robes, belts and boots.

Mongolian MenOrnaments approximately can be classified into five types: headwear, sautoir, plastron, waist decorations and hand decorations. Headwear, which mostly has scarves, hats, fillets, hair rings, plait clamps, plait covers, hairpins, hair clasps, earrings, eardrops and so on, is the most flowery part in Mongolian ornaments.

Women usually wear scarves. A scarf is about several zhangs (unit of length, one zhang is about 3.3 meters) long. It has a multitude of colors and is madeof fabric, flax, silk or thin silk etc. The lasses like to twine the scarf on the head, and then coil up a little knot on the right, letting the fringe come down. Married women use the scarf to wrap up the back of the top of the head by twining a circle around it, leaving no fringe. On formal occasions, they must wear caps that embroider designs like a red phoenix facing the sun or two dragons playing with a bead. At the crown of the cap, there are red fringe and shining gems. It is said that this custom dates back to Genghis Khan times. When Genghis Khan unified the other tribes in Mongolian area, he ordered that everyone should wear a scarf to show that there was a part of the flag on the head, which expressed their wish for the eternity of the mighty national spirit. From the day of marriage and saying goodbye to maiden life on, women must wear graceful and luxuriant ornaments that go with splendid attire. The headwear in Ordos is most typical of the Mongolian headwear for splendid attire. This kind of headwear is translated as "fillets", mainly composed of "pendants" and "hair covers". It is not only made with masterly craftwork, but also decorated by hundreds of corals, dozens of silver chains, pearl clusters, and many a silver loop, silver sheet as well as carnelian and bowlder. When it is worn, it looks like a pearl-decorated curtain hanging before the face. It might well be a feast for the eyes. A pair of fillet weighs three to four jins (one jin equals half a kilogram), and some can weigh as much as more than ten jins. It is said that only flocks of fine horses or hundreds of fine camels can be bartered for a top-grade pair of fillet.

Little Sisters on the PastureIn pasturing areas in Inner Mongolia and Xinjiang and so on, men and women, old and young like wearing long gowns called "Mongolian robe" all the year round. They wear lined robes in spring, unlined robes in summer, and fur robes as well as cotton robes in winter. Men's robes are usually loose, while women's are rather tight to show their slim figures and grace. The patterns and colors are slightly varied to different people and in various regions. The characteristics of the Mongolian robe are that it has big and long sleeves and high collar, and that the front of the garment is on the right, and most places at the bottom are not furcal. What's more, the edge of the robe, the cuffs and necklines are decorated with silks and satins laces, patterns of "screwed intestines", "flaky clouds" or furs of tigers, leopards, otters and martens and so on. It looks beautiful and decent, and is of practical use as well. It can prevent cold and protect knees in winter, and guard against the biting of mosquitoes and insects and is insolation-proof in summer. It is a coat during traveling, and a quilt during sleeping. Mongolians in the area of Ordos like wearing a waistcoat of various lengths outside the robe.

Child BootsBelts are the indispensable part of the Mongolian dresses and personal adornments. Generally speaking, the belt is made from cotton cloth as well as silks and satins and three or four meters or so long. Its color often goes with that of the robe. Sashing a belt can prevent the wind and cold, and keep the waist and ribs stable and vertical as well when riding a horse and holding a rein. In addition, it is a pretty ornament. When a man sashes a belt, he often lifts the robe a bit, which is fit for riding and also helps him to look vigorous as well as negligent. To the belt are hung three objects that are always with him: the Mongolian knife, steel for flint and a tobacco pouch. On the contrary, women pluck the robe downwards to display their charming figures. There are certain proprieties and particularities for sashing belts in Ordos and other areas. For example, unmarried women sash a girdle and leave the fringe behind. Once they get married, they become "Busiguihun"(Mongolian, meaning "person who does not sash a belt"), instead, they wear tight waistcoats to distinguish themselves from maidens.

The Mongolians are fond of wearing boots. Mongolian boots are made of either cloth or leather. Cloth boots are often made of thick cloth or canvas, and it feels soft and light to wear them. Leather boots are largely made of cowhide, horsehide or donkey hide. This kind of boots is tough for walking and proof against water and cold. There are generally types of leather boots: those whose tip curled upwards, those whose tip curled horizontally and those whose tip does not curl at all, which are suitable for walking in the desert, dry pasture and wet pasture respectively. Mongolian boots show exquisite workmanship with many fine decorative patterns embroidered or cut and paste on the uppers and legs of boots.  


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