Printer Friendly Version

You Are What You Wear

Only the best for baby
<H6>Miao culture<br>China<br><i>Baby carrier</i>, 20th century<br> Cotton, seeds<br>Minneapolis Institute of Arts<br>The Ruth Ann Dayton Chinese Room Endowment Fund, The Suzanne S. Roberts Fund</H6>
Miao culture
Baby carrier, 20th century
Cotton, seeds
Minneapolis Institute of Arts
The Ruth Ann Dayton Chinese Room Endowment Fund, The Suzanne S. Roberts Fund


High in the mountains of southern China, the Miao people live in remote villages. Most of them are farmers who spend a lot of time out in the fields and live in homes without electricity or modern plumbing. Miao mothers need a safe and secure way to carry a baby while they live and work in harsh conditions. Miao baby carriers hold the baby with a sturdy panel that is tied around the mother’s body with long straps.

In Miao culture, babies are a sign of wealth, happiness, and family. Baby carriers symbolize the ties between mother and child. Carriers form part of the ceremonial costumes that young women wear at festivals—even women who are not yet married. By wearing a baby carrier, a young woman announces that she is ready for marriage and hopes to have a child.

The most intricate and skillfully made Miao textiles are the baby carriers, with their colorful embroidery, woven appliqués, and batik. Sometimes a grandmother makes one as a gift for her new grandchild. Magic charms and talismans cover the carrier to protect the child from harm.

spacer related images 1.  + 2.  + 3.  + bracket spacer
1. The Miao live in the south of China.
2. Auspicious (good luck) images are meant to protect the baby from harm.
3. Baby carriers are beautiful and functional.
Photo by Dan Dennehy, Minneapolis Institute of Arts


December 2008