Story About Miao Silver Jewellery


Silver jewellery of Miao group is second to none, both in terms of quality and variety. The design of the silver decorations is largely inspired by nature and myths such as dragon, birds and flowers, so as other art forms such as embroidery and wax printing. Miao people believe silver jewelry wards off evil spirits and can purge of the body of toxins. Its white, pure and flawless, and hard in texture is the embodiment of Miao's spiritual quality. Nowadays, it remains indispensable in Miao communities. When there is festival or big event, women will wear fine silver jewellery and costume decorated by silver decorations weighing as much as 15 kilos.



Silver jewellery not only contributes to the decorating style, but some of the pendants called as "Five weapons" are functional, including toothpicks, nippers etc. The styles also distinguish the different branches and social status of Miao people. In Tingdong villege, If a woman wears five hairpins, she is unmarried, and if she wears one, she is married.


All the silver jewellery are handmade with a high degree of craftsmanship. A small piece of silver jewellery requires more than 30 processes, including casting, beating, stencil, welding, knitting and washing which could take several days to months.For example, knitting is one of the most skillful and patient work. Artisans need to twist two silver wires which are thinner than human hair and knit with the strand in the frame before welding. 



Through knitting, various linear decorations are presented. These techniques are usually passed down through family members and artisans normally work in family workshops, therefore some “silver villages” where silversmiths gather occurred. But the prosperity has gone. We went to one of the most famous silver village of Kongbai to meet our artisan Yang and only few artisans work in village. Due to economical and social reasons, many artisans from the region have moved to big cities and changed their occupation. The remaining artisans like Yang usually work in difficult conditions.