Monday, May 12, 2014

Chinese children’s hats

Since having my adorable child, Stella, I don't have as much extra funds for collecting vintage finds. But if I had more coins to rub together, I would collect Chinese children’s hats. Such hats were typically made by Chinese nationals known as “the minority peoples” of certain Chinese northern and southwest provinces.
These two silk hats date to the late 1800s and are hand-sewn with embroidered silk appliqué and the three-dimensional faces of dragons. I found them at GasLamp Too in Nashville, which is one of my clients. One cap has a longer, scalloped flap at the back.
Like all Chinese minority hats, these would have been made by a child’s mother for the same purpose: To provide protection from demons, evil spirits and ghosts. Such hats were also thought to foster important qualities in the child who wore them, including academic success, happiness, wealth, health, courage, long life, grace and beauty.
I asked a friend to translate the symbols on one hat and discovered they mean “an ocean of blessings” or even “abundant blessings.”
This orange hat, created in the form of a dragon, is found online at a company called Cyber Rug that deals in Oriental rugs. I love that it has bug eyes and a tail. Children still wear such hats in the more isolated regions today, but most hats of this genre ceased to be made in the mid-20th century.
An excellent source of information on this genre is “Stories of Chinese Children's Hats, Symbolism and Folklore” by Phylis Lan Lin & Christi Lan Lin.


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