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Textiles from the Li people of Hainan Island (Part 1)

The Li are related to Dai/Tai people from across southeast Asia, and they are part of the broader Austronesian family. Their textiles, particularly their striking supplementary weft and ikat designs, show their connection with southeast Asian peoples and are quite different from textiles from other parts of southwestern China. Their spectacular textiles use a variety of locally grown plant fibers with unique textures. Good, old textiles from the Li of Hainan are now rare.

Click on the photos for a larger images.

CET237 Meifu Li ikat tubeskirt from Hainan Island. First half of the 20th century. Indigo warp ikat with warp patterned stripes in between. Handspun cotton and natural dyes (indigo and dark brown and light brown). Woven on a backstrap loom in four panels joined together.

The Meiful Li ikat tradition is of particular importance since it is the only surviving Daic (Tai-Kadai) complex warp ikat decorative tradition, a very old technique that was formerly much more widespread in the SEA mainland. The majority of Daic peoples on the mainland made the switch from warp ikat to weft ikat and supplementary weft decoration centuries ago as a result of influences from India and China: only the Meifu Li tradition of Hainan remains to hint at what older decorative traditions might have looked like.

Meifu Li ikat skirt from Hainan Island

CET237 (other side)

56cm x 79cm

price on request

Hainan Meifu Li ikat tubeskirt


A tubeskirt made by Li people of the Ha subgroup. Handspun indigo-dyed cotton, decorated with human and geometric figures in white cotton and natural gold-brown dyed silk, using the supplementary weft technique. The waistband is decorated with ikat dashes. Made in 3 panels on a backstrap loom, joined together. This is a particularly nice example of this important type.

Mid-20th century or earlier.


Li minority textile from Hainan: Ha Li skirt

(CET341: other side)

50cm x 81cm.

Price on request.

Ha Li tubeskirt from Hainan Island, southern China


Qi Li skirt made of bast fiber, in three sections, the middle section decorated with silk and cotton supplementary weft designs, including the characteristic dancing figures in the top row that are a "signature" of Li minority decoration.

This is a old skirt dating to the first half of the 20th century. Bast fiber was largely replaced by cotton after the mid 20th century.


skirt from Li people, Qi subgroup, Hainan island

(reverse side of CET212)


price on request

li skirt, hainan
Go to part 2