Shoes made by the Miao / Hmong community in China
This pair of shoes comes from Miao/Hmong (literally 'nationality' or 'ethnicity' in Chinese) communities. Miao/Hmong communities describes a broad range of ethnic groups who live in south west China; this particular shoes originate from Black Miao people in Huangping, Guizhou province in China.
Approximately seven million Miao/Hmong people live in southwest China in Hunan, Yunnan, Sichuan, Guangxi and Guizhou provinces. They are divided into several main sub-groups, eg. the Kotchiong (Red Miao), the Hmu (Black Miao) and the Hmong (White Miao, Green Miao or Flowery Miao); each sub-group consists of many smaller groups. From the 1500s to the 1800s, many of the Hmong sub-groups migrated across the mountains to Laos, Thailand and Vietnam.
The patterns, colours, designs and motifs of Miao/Hmong costumes reflect the cultural values and ideals of the people, and embody a range of historical and symbolic references. These costumes are characterised by originality and by the exceptional skill of the makers in their use of colour, materials and techniques. Each sub-group has developed its own costume-making techniques depending on their particular way of life and the local environment. Different sub-groups can be distinguished one from another through the composition of their decorative patterns and the accompanying accessories and hair style.
This pair of shoes exemplifies the traditional techniques of pleat or braid embroidery, a distinctive embroidery technique in Guizhou province.