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Miao Festival Outfit

What is your most prized possession? What does it say about you? For the Miao people of southwestern China, nothing is more valuable, or more revealing, than their elaborate, handcrafted festival wear.

China, Miao people
Jacket and skirt, 20th century
Minneapolis Institute of Arts
The Ruth Ann Dayton Chinese Room Endowment Fund, The Suzanne S. Roberts Fund for Asian Art, and The Helen Jones Fund for Asian Art

On the Move
A Valued Skill
Fun and Festivities
All Dressed Up
A Closer Look at a Miao Outfit

Express Yourself: Miao festival garments reveal a lot about their makers. What does your clothing say about you? Make a sketch of your favorite outfit. Show the sketch to your classmates and discuss what the clothing items, colors, designs, and materials reveal about you. Combine all the drawings into a class catalogue.  

A Great Destination: Travel to remote Miao villages is becoming more popular. Use the Internet to research the Miao people, their culture, and the environment they live in. Then use the information to create a travel brochure.  

Clothing from Head to Toe: The MIA has a large collection of Miao festival garments and silver jewelry. Use the Art Collector tool of ArtsConnectEd ( to find various pieces of Miao clothing, including a jacket, skirt, pants, apron, hat, collar, headdress, baby carrier, and boots. Then sort the collection by type, colors, or materials.  

Dig a Little Deeper: Check out the MIA’s new Web site on Miao textiles at to learn even more about the Miao and view footage of Miao villages, festival activities, and textile making.  

November 2008