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Yao ethnic minority textiles

The Yao are a complex and widespread group with branches in China, Vietnam and Thailand. Consequently their costumes show considerable variety. Their clothing is marked by intricate embroidered designs in silk with a geometric flavor, often with symbolism linked to the history of Yao culture.

The Yao are Daoist, but with a culture that mixes older animist traditions with Chinese Daoist thought. For Yao shaman's masks see the Masks page of this site.

This collection includes some items from Yao living near the border of Guangxi and Guangdong provinces, a group that has a distinctive dress style that has only recently come to the attention of textile collectors.

Click on photos for a larger image


Yao indigo shawl with embroidered designs and tassels in silk at each end. Guangxi province. First half of the 20th century. 36cm x 250cm approx (excluding tassels).

Yao indigo scarf with embroidered ends


Yao indigo scarf with ends decorated with silk embroidery and silk tassels, with old glass beads. Mid 20th century. 198cm x 20cm.

Yao scarf from Guangxi province


Yao man's long jacket from Guangxi province, with characteristic embroidered panels, badge of Pan Hung on the back and tassels. Mid 20th century.

Yao coat
detail of embroidered panel on CET44 detail of embroidery on Yao long coat