Welcome to baoku, the online learning library of the Confucius Institute at Mason. Baoku, in Chinese, means "treasure trove"—we hope that you find the site's useful information to be just that.

Minority Ethnic Clothing


As of 2009, the population of China amounts to an astonishing 1.3 billion people.1 This number represents China as a whole, but there are many different groups that make up that whole. The world’s largest ethnic group is the Han. It comprises 92% of China’s population. In addition to the Han, China has 55 officially recognized ethnic minority groups.2 These different groups can be distinguished by their own customs, dress, music, religion, and social values. Some of these ethnic groups, although located in China, do not speak Chinese or write in traditional Chinese characters. In fact, of the 56 ethnicities, 53 have their own spoken languages and 23 have their own written languages.3

Each of these ethnic groups has created a style of clothing that is representative of their particular group. The costume is usually very colorful and reflects the ornamentation styles of the group.4 The details and designs reflect the beliefs, legends, and superstitions observed by the group. These beautiful costumes show that China is an incredibly diverse land consisting of many different people with completely different cultures.

This is not a complete list of the ethnic minority groups of China. In addition to the Han, we have chosen 10 of the 55 ethnic minority groups of China to serve as an example of the complexities of the Chinese people and to showcase the differences among the distinct minorities. Each group brings to the country their own heritage, history, influences, and traditions that make China a vast land with much diversity.

Creative Commons License
This work by China Learning Library @ George Mason University is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 3.0 Unported License.

All text written and researched by Lindsey Lowenberg.

Han Clothing

Han: The People of Tradition

Bai Clothing

Bai: Lovers of Art and Beauty

Dai Clothing

Dai: Worshippers of the Holy Bird

Hani Clothing

Hani: Terrace Field Farmers

Korean (Chaoxianzu) Clothing

Chaoxianzu: Chinese of Korean Decent

Manchu Clothing

Manchu: Descendants of the Qing Dynasty

Miao Clothing

Miao: Richness from Within

Mongolian Clothing

Mongolian: Nomads with a Sense of Adventure

Uyghur Clothing

Uyghur: Those who Dance in the Desert

Yi Clothing

Yi: Keepers of the Torch

Zhuang Clothing

Zhuang – The Singing Festival

Works Cited