Mathildehk – Heritage Museum -Wearable blessings: Traditional Chinese Children’s Clothing

You like fashion and textiles,

You enjoy discovering local traditions,

You want to learn more on Babies’ and Children’s clothes?

Until March 21, the Hong Kong Heritage museum showcases a marvellous collection of 200 objects: headwear, shoes, cloaks, bib collars and waistcoats or baby carriers, made out of silk, cotton, fur or beads, during the nineteenth and the beginning of the twentieth centuries. Each items stress the very high care of the old generations to the new child to be.

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What strikes the visitor as soon as entering the exhibition hall, are the shining colours and the many animals embroidered on every piece of clothings on display. Indeed, the tradition was to give the baby protective figures, embroidered on its clothes, in order to prevent him from harm and to bless him with virtues and longevity. The ancients also believed the belly bottom or the ears were to be especially covered to avoid bad spirits to find their ways to the baby’s soul.

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Part of those symbols are still important nowadays, such as the tiger or the dragon. In China just like in Europe, the birth of a baby is still celebrated with traditional gift giving. Certainly a gift of clothing or learning toys have always been appropriate for a Chinese baby, but the tradition shows respect for the baby’s heritage and comes with an ancient legacy of good will and blessings.

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In order to celebrate a new born, Chinese celebrate the 100 days of a child, by throwing a party and exchanging gifts. Historically from Korea, 100 days has been an event for a family and friends. Idea was picked up in Hong Kong and spread into China. Asian tradition to celebrate 100 days of baby’s birth is gaining traction.

A very traditional gift: Baby’s shoes

“The traditional shoes feature colourful tiger face uppers with big searching eyes. In China, the tiger is the king of beasts — there are no lions in China — and the fierce cat is believed to ward off evil or misfortune. The great eyes are supposed to watch the baby’s first steps to help stabilize him and protect him from harm. And the Chinese habit of borrowing characteristics from symbols means that a child wearing tiger shoes is absorbing strength and courage.”

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1950-1960, Jacket and trousers suit with a three star gods, Naidongtang collection, picture@mathildehk

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1880’s, baby headwear, decorated with peaches, picture@mathildehk
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Picture wall, from 19th century, picture@mathildehk

Wearable Blessings: Traditional Chinese Children’s Clothing

Hong Kong Heritage Museum
1/F Thematic Gallery 5
18 December 2015 – 21 March 2016 

Jointly presented by the Leisure and Cultural Services Department and
The Memorial Museum of Generalissimo Sun Yat-sen’s Mansion
Organised by the Hong Kong Heritage Museum
Supported by the Institute of Textiles & Clothing, The Hong Kong Polytechnic University

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