While Christmas shopping for my friends and family back home in the good ol’ USA, I had the pleasure of running into a Tibetan woman hawking her wares…
…Although her clothes weren’t the same as the illustration above, it is generally a pretty accurate depiction of this large ethnic minority in China. Tibetans love color, fur (usually shaved or gathered after the animal sheds it), and metallic and shiny things, not much unlike Han Chinese people.
Even though it was freezing and humid outside that day, this Tibetan lady kept warm in her fur hat and simply-cut yet beautiful fur lined coat, which was made by her mother and had very tiny crystals attached to the face… If you look closely, you can see them twinkling in the little bit of sunlight that penetrated the smog of Shanghai and reflected off of the patch under her elbow:
And just as I imagined Tibetans to be, this lady was as warm on the inside as she looked on the outside in all that fur… She had bright, beautiful eyes and a welcoming smile between her foreign-sounding mutterings in standard Mandarin; indeed, Tibetans have their own language that is not really related to Mandarin, and so we bonded even more over our rough language skillz… And communicated enough for me to buy a ton of gifts (Christmas gifts this year was pretty much a one-stop-shop experience).
But the tiny crystals on her coat weren’t the only thing that attracted me to this bright, beautiful lady preparing to go home to Tibet for Chinese New Year… Her metallic hat, lined with fur, definitely caught my eye as well. I’m not a huge fur fan, but this hat was pretty cool and was necessary for someone spending most of winter outside.
And you may think I’m tactless or heartless because I also asked her if she would sell her coat because I loved it so much, and she was eager to do so… I still felt guilty literally buying the clothes off of someone’s back, so I told her I would think about it and return if I decided I wanted to… What do you guys think? She actually had me try it on because it was freezing that day and she wanted me to stay and look at her goods; she also insisted “Tibetans aren’t afraid of the cold.” So I did, and I have to say that that was a warmmmmm jacket, even without sleeves.
This all happened outside of the South Bund fabric market, which was my original destination that I never go to because it’s such a hassle haggling with everyone (so I have few pictures of this important sartorial landmark in Shanghai), but I never made it inside because all these Tibetan ladies kept on dragging me to their “stores” after seeing me purchase many things from my new-found friend here.
So if you’re in Shanghai and seeking out gifts for family back home, brave the madness of the fabric market and the humid cold to find some hidden treasures that your family will be sure to love, while also supporting one of China’s many ethnic minorities and spreading holiday cheer (^-^)
Best Dressed Generation:
Gen X – 180 points
Gen Y – 145 points + 20 points for rockin’ ethnic minority wear that is not only different from the drab garments that dominate China’s sartorial scene during the winter but also functional and animal friendly = 165 points
Gen Z – 135 points