LIANG YI TALKS
Title: Fashion and Identity: The Clothing of the Yi Ethnic Group in Southwest China
Speaker: Dr. He Jianfei
Date: Tuesday, November 5th, 2019
Our current exhibition, Crowning Glory: The Beauty of ladies’ Ornaments from Asia and Europe, explores the construct of Chinese and Japanese women’s identity; and the changing notion of the ideal of feminine beauty from the late imperial to the modern period. We are pleased to have Dr. He Jianfei as speaker of our November edition of Liang Yi Talks. With a focus on textiles of the Yi ethnic group from southwest China, the talk provides an interdisciplinary perspective that combines historical anthropology, ethnographical archaeology and material culture studies to discuss how the Yi people developed and maintain their unique symbolic communication system through textile and embroidery to construct and negotiate their identity without a written historical record.
Women in the Yi community shoulder the responsibility of making and displaying clothes. As a product of history and past paradigms, local literates routinely describe Yi traditional attire as composed of narrative motif and successive styles, in a long history with continuous nature. Material culture studies on Yi clothing present a picture of adoption and transformation of the fashion, as well as the loss, breakage and abandonment of Yi identity in modern times.
Dr. He Jianfei is assistant director at Bei Shan Tang Foundation. She received her PhD from the Department of History at Sun Yat-sen University specialising in historical anthropology. She was awarded the J.S. Lee Memorial Fellowship and James Menzies Chinese Research Fund; and was guest curator at the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto, Canada.