Ethnic Minority Hats, Shanghai

The other day I took a designer friend to lunch at a Xin Jiang restaurant in Shanghai called Xibo. Previously I’d only been there at night for dinner, and never noticed the decor on the wall near the entrance:

The owner explained that the hats were all from Xin Jiang, from various ethnic minorities. I asked if they would be willing to sell any, but they said they were increasingly difficult to find and thus not for sale.

When Westerners think of Chinese hats, they typically envision this sort of hat:

But beyond this prevalent style of hat, pretty much every ethnic minority in China (there are 56 recognized ethnic minorities in Greater China) has its own style(s) of headwear. I haven’t seen that many in Shanghai, but you can always recognize people from Xin Jiang, like this guy.

Usually, people don’t have cards sticking out of their hats, but I guess it was hot that day and it functioned as a sort of visor.

I’ve been so intrigued by these hats of various ethnic minorities that I went searching for somewhere I could actually buy them, and I found quite a few at the Dong Tai Antique Market:

Such objects are a testament to China’s unique sartorial culture and the diverse heritage that China has and is losing, as these hats are typically no longer produced and worn in a country that arguably marginalizes ethnic minorities. These ones are mostly from the more prominent Miao minority, but there are also hats from the Dong minority and others.

Most Chinese people claim they are part of the Han minority, but I think people should be proud to be unique and different, and proud to represent their individual cultural heritage. I think these hats are absolutely stunning and will personally be collecting them, and they are just one example of how truly incredible China’s ethnic minorities are.


About chinesepeopledoyoustyle

The emergence of style in China
This entry was posted in Color, Cultural Heritage, Diversity, Domestic Development, Ethnic Minorities, Hats, Minorities, Xu Hui District and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Ethnic Minority Hats, Shanghai

  1. Jean says:

    I am so happy to see your interest in these gorgeous hats!!!!!! One of my most precious treasures is my grandsons hat that his Mom made for him when he was a baby…Lisu hilltribe, one of the Ethnic minorities scattered around and starting to assimilate, yes, they are, especially in Thailand. Many of the young women now are marrying “falang” foreigners. Also, his Chinese baby carrier that his Mom used to carry him on her back, it is fantastic……I display these things as the treasures they are and was told never to put a nail in his carrier to keep it attached to the wall as it would bring bad luck and effect his good health…..not that I would even think of putting a nail in it!!!! Thank you for showing all these beautiful hats….I love when I see the ethnic minorities in their native costumes, they are disappearing and getting into jeans and t-shirts, but come every Chinese New Year you can really see all the finery and silver incorporated into this clothing.

    • Hi Jean!! Nice to hear from you! I always appreciate hearing your personal stories and how they relate to my posts… It’s always great to hear that what I write resonates with people. Some of my most beloved pieces of clothing are from my Grandmother, as it helps me always feel connected and close to her. You should always protect heirlooms from your family and culture.

      Also, that’s very interesting about the carrier for the babies, but it definitely makes sense that you shouldn’t put a nail in it. I’m sure it’s absolutely beautiful, and your family will definitely thank you for taking such good care of it. My Mom kept a lot of our clothes from when we were kids, which my Dad doesn’t really understand so much, but it is nice to have them around, even if we don’t use them anymore.

      Thanks again for the comment and reading!!

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