Thursday, August 27, 2009

Clothing of Lahu Nyi

Lahu Nyi women wear short lined jackets, sarong-type skirts, and leggings, usually made of black cotton cloth. For festive wear velvet or satin may be used in black, blue, or green colours.
Jackets are edged with red down the front and around the bottom, with added strips of red around the upper arms. It is the predominance of red in their clothing which has earned them the name 'Lahu Nyi' [Red Lahu], although bands of blue, white, and printed material are also used. Jackets are closed in front with one or more engraved round silver buckles, some of which are very large.
Skirts are made of three horizontal panels. The top panel is basically red with woven stripes in other colours. The bottom panel is sometimes simply a six cm strip of plain white cloth stitched over the skirt, but the festive skirts have broad borders up to 15 cm wide of red cloth with many lines of coloured thread stitched on it. This is done by couching [laying a strand of thread in a straight line and tacking it down with tiny evenly-spaced stitches.] The same technique is used for accent around the edges, using a cord made by twisting many threads together. The central panel of the skirt is often left plain, but is sometimes decorated with couched thread as in the border. Skirts are worn folded in front and secured with a sash or metal belt. For dress-up occasions silver belts are worn- often of silver rupee coins. Leggings are black or blue, with red and white trim.

Recently some of the more affluent Lahu Nyi women have discovered the sewing machine. They have attachments for fancy stitches, and now lavishly decorate jackets and skirts, replacing laboriour hand-stitching. Many women who do not own machines buy clothing from those who do.

Silver ornament worn by women include wide bracelets, neck rings, finger rings, and earrings. One type of earring is in the from of a circle which hooks into the ear, with a tightly-wound coil or leaf-shape at the bottom; the other has a decorative crown with club-shaped dangles attached.

Lahu Nyi men wear loose black jackets that fasten on the side, and three-quarter length Chinese-style pants. In some cases the pants and jackets have an embroidered trim. Young men prefer blue or green pants, elders wear black, sometimes lined with white cloth. Leggings are black or white with blue trim.

On festive occasions the jackets of both young men and coins. Traditionally the men have worn New Year's turbans made of two yards each of red, black, and white cloth. The standard Lahu Nyi shoulder bag is predominantly red, embellished with a variety of embroidered designs. Festive bags are ornamented with silver buttons and coins and have a long fringe across the bottom. The strap is handwoven, mostly in red.

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