Dungan Costume and Ornaments

The collection of State Museum of History of Uzbekistan at AS RUz contains more than three hundred original articles representing Dungan culture at the end of the 19th - beginning of the 20th century. Most of them were collected by museum researchers including famous ethnographer Turdy Migiyazov in 1927-1928 in Kazakhstan villages of Qara-Kunguz and Shortuba and in Kirghiz towns of Tokmak and Pishpek.

Articles of male costume, female and children’s clothes, belts, headdresses, footwear, ornaments and different cases for storage of toilet and others form the collection.

Men’s wear includes such articles as “vanza” shirt with long sleeves from white coarse calico; “dja-bi-da” caftan without a collar and with long sleeves from black lasting lined with white coarse calico; “myan-bi-da” winter caftan, quilted, with a high collar and long sleeves; “dja-dja-za” jacket from black sateen, quilted, without sleeves, with a collar (such jackets were put on caftan or robe); “myan-puza” winter robe reached heels, quilted, with a collar, face and lining from cotton. Typical are side 4-5 bronze buttons and fabric buttonholes. Silhouette is straight with additional flap.

Female costume is presented by “tsanza” shirt, “tsynza-lok-puza” shirt, “dja-dja-za” weskit, “sanza” dress, “kauza” wedding dress and “da-ngor” festal robe. Shirts are tailored from monophonic fabric - silk or cotton. These are short, unlined, put on in combination with trousers. Sleeves are wide, with cuffs. Silhouette is straight. Shirts have bronze buttons and buttonholes from black braid on side. Sleeves and collar are decorated with coloured silk bands. Weskits with bronze buttons on side were put on shirts. Winter weskits are quilted. Edges are decorated with coloured bands and trimmed with fabric.

Robe-like dress “sanza” are tailored from monochromic satin with woven pattern of the same colour, lined and unlined. “Sanza” was cut of two sheets bent on shoulders and sewed together on back and sides. Sleeves and flaps were cut from them. One of flaps was extended with additionally sewed flap. Sleeves are long, straight and tapered downward. A collar is stand-up. Down side cuts reach 44-45 cm. Cuffs, collar and flaps are trimmed with silk bands or embroidered with zoomorphic ornaments in satin stitch.

“Kauza” wedding dresses are especially beautiful. They were tailored from black silk (kaunas) with stamped ornament of the same color and lined with bright green silk. The silhouette imitated “sanza” but without additional flap and with buttons in the middle. Bands and embroidered ornament in satin stitch decorate “kauza”. One of dresses from the museum collection is decorated with gold embroidery of vegetative ornament and butterflies along the edges.

Silk festal robes of “da-ngor” and “mya-ngor” winter robes are also richly decorated with embroidery. Embroidery was done on fabric contrasted with a background.

On holidays, women put round or square collar-cape of “peidja” above a robe. It had one-five and more layers, formed from figured medallions (up to 68, sometimes more) and fastened with beads. Actually each medallion represents a piece of art. Embroidered pictures of birds, flowers, fallow deer, men and women in national costume and various symbols make their decoration. The layers are sewed onto a narrow stand-up collar with fastener. Medallions go down shoulders.

An obligatory element of Dungan costume was trousers: “tou-ka” for men, “kuza”, “kuza-la-paza”, “myang-kuza” and “kfuza” for women. Trousers were sewed from silk, white calico and cotton. They were decorated with embroidery and silk bands with woven ornament. Winter trousers of “myang-kuza” were quilted.

Original are man’s and children’s belts of “vy-du-za” having or not pockets in a form of oval or square bag for money. They were fixed on back. Bright embroidery and appliqués often decorated belts.

In winter time women and men put on ear-caps of “er-tu-za” tailored of silk or cotton with underlining. The face of ear-caps was also decorated with embroidery, tambour or satin stitch. Size - 10-8 cm.

Head diadems of “ma-ta-zy” were made from fabric decorated with clusters, flowers, pictures of butterfly, bug or flower. Young women decorated their hair with artificial flowers from glued silk or paper on a wire frame.

Characteristic of most products is bright polychromic embroidery. Embroidery as a process had two steps. First, a pattern was drawn and cut of a sheet of paper. Places of colours change were marked with cuts. Then a finished stencil was sewed or glued onto silk, sateen or other fabric and covered with satin stitch in silk threads. The embroidery looked very artistic. Its subjects could be Dionysius scenes, Buddhist relics and various motifs connected with cults of nature. One of such plots is “ju lun byan hua” on a pillowcase: pinky red fanza with a dragon inside and fish beside is floating in waves. The sun and flying dragon are above. Vegetative and geometrical ornament fills up a background.

Major ornamental motifs often mean different kind wishes. Peach (“tor”) and bamboo (“juzymyi”) mean a wish of long life; pomegranate – wish of numerous male issue, peony - riches, bat (“ebehur”) - wish of happiness, success and calmness. A bug was also considered a symbol of happiness. Dahlia (“modanhuar”) symbolized riches, and cucumbers meant eight gems. Stylized clouds (“junzy”) and flowing water were often embroidered too. Lotus (“lyanhuar”) is often present at wedding accessories of a bride. Sometimes small three-petal lotuses were combined and turned into peony. Phoenix (“fyn-huan”) was often embroidered on pillows, shoes and other subjects. A picture of a tiger appeared sometimes. Two deer beside a flower form a composition of “lu-chin-min”. Peacocks among blossoming flowers, storks and butterflies often decorated cuffs on female robes. Natural colour was not so obligatory. Roses could be dark blue, trees - violet or lilac, lions - green, snakes - blue, cows - yellow, etc.

Bands of Chinese silk with woven ornament, ribbons, silver and gold foil were used for edging. It could be also done with black threads or fabric, more often black.

The collection represents also summer and winter, everyday and festal footwear from white cotton. Every Dungan family sewed footwear.

Female festal footwear of “vaza” was sewed from white silk on lining. Soles had several layers of red fabric stitched with threads. The top was decorated with bright embroidery. “Hova-za” was sewed for a bride from white satin on crimson soles. The top was embroidered with flowers and decorated with appliqués. Female shoes “hej” and man’s “da-hej” were also embroidered. Paper, cardboard, wood and twine for soles were used alongside with fabric.

Dungan women liked to decorate legs with small bows of “pei-pei-za” which were fixed on trousers with silk bands of “fui-du-za”. They could have a form of butterfly, cat or lion head and flower. Embroidery, small clusters, colored beads and fringe added their design.

Original printed pendants were fixed on female dresses. It is a small case for perfume and gems - “hu-po”, a small pincushion in a case - “djing-za-za”, “shi-go”, “he-bo-zy” and others. They were made in the form of butterfly, peach, dahlia, teapot, fan, vase, fish or bat, decorated with embroidery, sometimes small clusters, foil and beads. Size alternated from 5x7 to 12x14 cm. “Sun-shan-djing” was fixed on a collar. It consisted of 6x7.5 cm mirror in a case from fabric with embroidered lily, nephrite plate with carved zoomorphic and vegetative ornament. It was decorated with clusters and beads. Length – 75 cm.

Stylized vases and medallions often decorated interior. They were made from fabric on cardboard frame or filled up with cotton. “Fing” was made in a form of jug with handles. Its bottom was supplied with “zue-zue-zy” pendant in a form of butterfly or cat head that was also from fabric, often velvet. Artificial flowers were put in “fing”. “Fing” was an element of decorative wall set consisted of two vases and “sha-sha” butterfly put above mirror. Embroidery also decorated fabric frame for photos, cases for chopsticks (“kuiy-za”), sticks for smoking (“shana”), cases for combs and other small subjects which were hung up on a wall.

Door curtains were decorated with couple “mu-lyang-za” which were fixed on both sides of the door. They consisted of several big and small details connected with threads and beads forming different figures: butterfly, lotus, branch, etc. Each detail was embroidered.

Pillowcases were usually decorated with side inserts of round or square embroidered appliqués.

Embroidery and appliqués often decorated different cases and boxes for matches, rice and other grain as well as covers for teapot - “hu-mo” etc.

The collection has a little jewelry. These are well polished nephrite balls, silver rings, narrow and thin earrings having rectangular plate with carved geometrical vegetative and zoomorphic pattern, man’s belt clasp with large insert from nephrite and beads. Original is a diadem from brass sewed on black fabric with a paper basis. Patterns represent stylized dragons, butterflies and swastikas.

We know that Dungan masters made silver breast chains with medallions and bells, sometimes with amulets of “tumor” and protective symbols – expressive fantastic animals and earrings in a form of cocks and butterflies, rings with pictures of frog as well as cast bracelets with embossed patterns.

Today about two thousand Dungans live in Uzbekistan, namely in Tashkent, Andizhan and some other towns of Fergana valley. Most densely they live in “Dungan-mahalla” of Urtachirchik district in Tashkent region. The Dungans carefully keep ancient traditions which are reviving in independent Uzbekistan.


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