Friday, January 22, 2016

Wearable Blessings

I caught on late to this news, but the month of January (here in Hong Kong) is "Appreciate Hong Kong" month.  A benefit is that all of Hong Kong's museums are now free admission.  That doesn't quite matter to me because I have a museum pass…but it is a really great thing to know for those who would like to visit some of the museums around the city.

TOO BAD the art museum is under renovations!!!! though!!!

Today, we headed over to Shatin's Hong Kong Heritage Museum.  The exhibit that we were aiming to check out was the "Wearable Blessings" exhibit.  This exhibit is found on the first floor.

"Wearable Blessings" info:
From reading up on the exhibit online, I learned that the work that went into children's clothing was quite significant back in the olden times of China (as with most countries, though).  So, people used to believe heavily on superstitions that would protect their children and help them to live long, healthy lives.  These superstitions included wearing clothes with animals on them to protect them from harm…to accessories that would ward off evil spirits.

Exhibit runs until March 21, 2016

The "Full Moon" caps above were usually given to babies who survived the first month of life.  They were embroidered with flowers, which wished wealth, honor, and fortune upon those children who wore them.

The jacket above had a pair of phoenixes embroidered on them.  The symbolism of the two singing phoenixes was to wish the little girls who wore them a good and happy marriage.  The flowers embroidered around them again wished wealth and honor to the girl's future.

In the exhibit space, there was also a display with some of the modern/contemporary pieces of Chinese children's clothing.  I loved how inspiration front he past was taken into heavy consideration when these designers created these works of art!

Above is a baby carrier, which I've seen all over when I lived in China.  It's something that I always thought was quite beautifully handcrafted and such a useful tool to haul around a baby!

The unique thing about this baby carrier was the fact that there were bells attached to it.  The bells, when jingled, would chase away evil spirits and protect the baby.  I quite liked that sentiment.

The baby's bib above was used like any other bib…to protect food from messing up a child's clothing!  But, the interesting thing about bibs was that they were given to women as a dowry gift.  The bib would first be used as a doily for an oil lamp.  The museum information said that the word for lamp (deng) sounded like the word for "son" (ding).  So, it was a superstitious gesture to assure the woman would have a son in her future.

The cap below was absolutely beautiful.  The caps in the exhibit were all quite stunning actually.  This one, in particular, caught my eye because of the mirror detailing around the front of the cap.  The mirrors (as said the information board) were a common thing that was seen in the Western world.  So, this cap was made to be a fusion between Chinese and Western cultures.

The shoes below were covered with persimmon flower embroidery.  The word for persimmon sounded like the words for "thought"…"business"…"positivity.  So, these shoes were embroidered in such a way to wish the child wearer a good and stable career.

Perhaps the most interesting of all the things in this exhibit was the padlocks that were in the back of the space.  I always had seen them around in jewelry shops and also when I lived in China.  I thought they were just a nice little ornament…but they had a lot more meaning that I learned about while going through "Wearable Blessings."

These padlocks (an example seen below) were worn by children to wish them good luck and health.  Parents believed that they could lock their child's soul to the family and protect evil spirits from carrying them away.  They also believed that the lock would help their child to lock in on their studies.

Superstitions are always so interesting to learn about…and how they are used in clothing, especially, was quite fascinating.  I would definitely recommend a trip out to Shatin for anyone who is interested in learning more about the culture of children's clothing in China.