The Roommate & I will be on a big trip thru Finland & Iceland to celebrate our 30th wedding anniversary (yes we are proud!), so the next few weeks I'll be sharing a few items From the Collection. I hope you enjoy these lovely examples of folk art.
Think about this: you're a parent in pre-science culture. You see the high death rate of children, especially babies. Even if you have a clue about clean water or immunizations, you have no way to put that knowledge into daily use. So you might try other methods to ensure the health & success of your baby. These children's hats, richly embroidered & decorated, are an attempt to ward off evil spirits, while also ensuring luck, wealth, happiness & longevity.
The scary face would definitely give an evil spirit a fright, don't you think?
|This hat is from the Bai people, an ethnic minority in |
SW China (we purchased this cap in Dali in 1994).
The exquisite embroidery, along with the fake fur, and a little trapunto (for the nose), give this cap a distinct personality. I imagine a little boy or girl would be thrilled to wear such a scary cap, the equivalent of the superhero capes Western children wear. The row of Buddhas will bring luck and wealth.
|Lotus embroidered on corduroy |
used for the back of the cap.
The lotus flower (above) endows purity on the wearer while the bird may mean a messenger or a shaman. I can guess, but really, will never know what the mother or grandmother or aunt or sister was thinking when she made this treasure for a new member of the family.
I'm a librarian, so compelled to include a bit of reading in case you'd like to find out more:
Symbolism in Chinese Children's Hats & Baby Carriers (2007)
and even more reading (on the Bai & Miao, but other ethnic minorities, too)!