The characteristic girdles of Deang women

Deang women's costumes are usually black, red or colorful (Hua in Chinese), so they are called "Red Deang", "Black Deang" and "Hua Deang". Deang women generally wear long straight skirt, bamboo-woven waist-girdles, big eardrops and coverings for the legs.

Deang women's dress differs depending on their dialects, their ages and whether they are married or not. Women from the Red and Hua Deang shave head and wear black head wrapping, big eardrop, silver circlet neck ring and silver bracelet. They wear black edge-to-edge blouse faced with a piece of red cloth and four or five big square silver buttons. They wear bamboo girdles with delicate ornamental designs. Red Deang women usually edge the skirt with a piece of cloth that has bright red horizontal 16-to-20-cm strips. Black Deang women decorate their blue-black skirt with several red, green or white thin strips and Hua Deang women sew red, black or red-blue strips on their straight skirt.

Deang women's dress varies at different ages. Their dresses are very simple before they are 13. They wear child's dress when they are from 1 to 6, and girl's dress from 7 to 12. Young women's (from 13 to the time they get married) dress is elegant and colorful. They wear short indigo or blue garment with a white turndown collar, narrow sleeves and buttons down the front. The collar, with a white inner layer and an indigo outer layer, is edged with colorful pompoms. The two shoulders of the blouse are set with three pieces of red cloth and they are also edged with pompoms. The wristbands are rimmed with two thin pieces of red cloth and the end-ridge of the lower hem of the dress is rimmed with a thin red line, decorated with various flowers, beautiful designs and colorful pompoms. Young Deang women wear bright-colored and beautiful straight skirt.

The major difference of a Deang woman's dress before and after she is married is that a married woman wraps her head with double-layered indigo cloth, and the wrapping can be of the length to her waist. What's more, they do not tie red pompoms onto the ear ornament (Ertong in Chinese), and they don't wear neck ring. Old women like to wear black garment with loose sleeves, round collar without red lace or pompoms. They wear less waist girdles and their waist girdles are usually black. Old Deang women do not wear any earbob, bracelet, or finger ring.

Deang men usually wrap their heads with black or white scarves. They like to wear silver ornaments on their ears, neck and hands. They wear ear ornament (Ertong, and at the end of which are strung red pompoms) on the left ear and silver earbob on the right ear. They wear several silver circlet neck rings on their neck. Deang men generally wear a short black or blue jacket buttoned to the left side and short and loose trousers. They wear on their shoulder cloth bags edged with many red pompoms.

The most characteristic part of the Deang dresses and adornments is the girdles that Deang women wear. A grown woman often wears several girdles, which are often made of rattan or bamboo. Their girdles are often painted red, black or green, and are usually beautifully decorated.

Legend goes that Deang women didn't wear any girdles long time ago and girls could fly all over the sky. They worked together with men during the day, but they flied into the sky in the evening. Men felt lonely and hoped to stay with them all time, so they begged the god to help them. The god told them that the only way to keep the women on the ground was to weave hoops with rattan and put them around the women's waists. So men made rattan hoops and loop them over the girls' waists when they are asleep. The girls could not fly anymore and had to live with men. The hoops gradually developed into today's girdles, the beautiful ornament.

Deang women's girdles vary in the material, color and ornament. Hua Deangs use grass or rattan to weave the girdle, and they like the natural color. Young girls dye their girdle bright colors. Red and Black Deangs use rattan strips to weave their girdles, which are then painted red or black. The strips of the girdle are very thin, so women often wear 20 to 30 girdles. Some women use bamboo strips to weave their one-fingerbreadth-wide girdle, on which are carved various beautiful decorative patterns and floral designs. They wear three to five girdles. Some women wear bamboo strips girdles, the front part of which are coated with silver or white tin pieces. Their girdles glitter and are very delicate. Black Deangs make girdle with thin rattan strips. They bind several strips into one girdle, paint it black, and wrap the front part of the girdle with silver or white tin threads. They also wear on their waist a piece of aluminum, on which some colorful threads are wrapped. Seen from the front, the waist glitters brightly.

Deang people believe that the more girdles a woman wears and the more delicate her girdles are, the more diligent and intelligent she is. Mothers usually pass their girdles to their daughters instead of their daughters-in-law. Girdles are usually treated as a love token when young men and women date each other. So young man often tries his best to make elegant girdles and present them to his sweetheart.

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