Due to the differences in natural conditions, production methods and history, Tibetan costumes are extremely colorful and varied. More than 200 types of clothing have been discovered, ranking first among ethnic minorities in China.
There are three kinds of Tibetan men's clothing: Le Gui (labor clothes), Zhui Gui (gowns), and Zha Gui (samurai dress ).
With the change of climate throughout the year, the Le Gui also changes. In spring and summer, they generally wear a cotton or white silk shirt with short waistcoat. Punctured with cotton and wool, the wide-sleeved robe is usually tied around the waist with colorful flower straps. The two sleeves are crossed by the front and rear abdomen and are tied behind the waist. The long-swinging part is flanked by knees. The waist forms a sac belt to carry personal articles. The trousers have a wide waist, open gear and legs. They wear short-term Tibetan shoes and felt hats. Clothes in cold days are leather or artificial products. Leather hat are wore as ear protection.
Zhui Gui are festive and ceremonial costumes whose materials are expensive and exquisite. The jackets and inner blouses are made of silk and velvet silk fabrics, generally in white, purple and light yellow. The high collar, the rim and the neckline are all inlayed with gold or silver, and the satin fabrics of various colors are also used. The inner blouses are long-sleeved waistcoats while the outer are selected from brocades, which are printed with thomas, or other floral motifs. The style is the same as that of the inner blouse, but sleeveless. The trousers are sewn with white rayon, matching with the Tibetan-style long-leg shoes with leather-bound velvet. The accessories consist mainly of black urns, obliquely inserted waist knives, a beautiful wavy tail sculpted at the back, and a silver knife affixed with dragons.
The features of Tibetan garments are also reflected in the change of women's dress in celebrations, major events and ceremonies. There is a big difference between adult rituals and marriage.
In the 15th and 17th years of age, Tibetan girls in Qinghai Agriculture Area have to change their childhood-type quilts into adult-type quilts. The ritual must be carried out in auspicious days and hold religious ceremonies by monks first. At the age of fifteen, the Tibetan girls of Haixi are required to wear a hairspray which is made of cloth or satin and decorated with silver shields and corals. The Guoluo Tibetan newlyweds are required to wear large-sleeved jackets and gorgeous vests. Cuffs are decorated with a rainbow-style welt. Similarly, the hair extensions of Tianzhu Tibetan unmarried women are much shorter than those of married women while women in Aba only began to collect hair after age of 16. Zhuoni's unmarried girl made up plaits, and married women were only middle-braided but not edited on both sides, but they were all woven from below the waist.
The farmer usually wears a white round-collar right-shoulder robe. The collar and cuffs are decorated with red, yellow and blue lace with cross patterns. The robe is slightly longer than the person's height. A rope is used to fasten the robes around his waist to make the robe knee-length, the waist forming a pocket to hold personal articles. When staying out, the robe can be used as a quilt at night.
There are some differences between urban Tibetan clothing and farmers in Lhasa, especially for women. In summer, Lhasa women wear sleeveless long skirts. The choice of colors and fabrics is totally different from that of pastoralists and farmers. People in Lhasa like to make Tibetan dresses from satin and other fabrics with a better texture and pure colors, which are in contrast to the strong red-and-green colors favored by farmers and herdsmen.
Pastoralists in Northern Tibet
They almost wear leather gowns throughout the year. The design of men's gowns is relatively simple than that of women which are more complex, with many large ribbon trims, side by side decorated in black, red, green, purple and other colors. Robes hang down to the feet with waistbands or colored belts. Due to the warm climate in Zhouqu, Gansu, women often wear thin wide black robes, with a short blouse and a black or blue wide waistband. Their pants are wide and loose, and some also wrapp in leg-straps. A large round silver plate with painted national pattern is placed on the chest.
Tibetan gowns are the most common. Urban residents like to use high-grade wool to make Tibetan-style gowns, while rural areas use clams, and pastoral areas use fur. The essential thing in Tibetan clothing is the belt. In addition, the Tibetan code for women is also very characteristic. In addition, Tibetans also like to wear hats, mostly felt hats, fur hats, and gold flower hats.
Hada is the most important ornament in Tibetan costumes, also one of the most common etiquette items in Tibet. It is an expression of blessing, respect, friendship and sincerity. Hada vary in texture, specifications, color, and length. In the past, the material used for weaving Hada was generally raw silk or hemp. In recent years, more and more artificial fibers have been used. The Tibetans advocate the color of white, which symbolize holiness, sincerity and openness, so the common Hada is white. In addition, there are multicolored Hada which are woven in blue, white, yellow, green and red colors. Each has its own meaning and interpretation. They are generally considered to represent blue sky, white clouds, rivers, dainty and earth.
The most representative style of Tibetan clothing is the robe. This long robe is worn by everyone with a leather-covered band with no pockets or buttons. On weekdays, the men's gowns were mostly plain in color with large black borders. But in festivals, costumes with colored trims are preferred; the gown trims of women were more beautiful. The material used for the most representative trims is a wool fabric with particular colors and patterns, commonly using vertical stripes of blue, green, purple, green, orange, yellow, rice and other colors, composing of five colored bands. The shoulders, hem and cuffs of women's leather gowns are commonly decorated in yellow, red, green and purple stripes, and they are often adopt complementary colors. At the same time, there would be a strong contrast between gold and silver lines that the bright and harmonious artistic effect gives people a strong artistic impression.
Tibetan jewelry are various which are made from gold and silver, ivory or jade, including the distinctive "Bazhu" overhead, silver coins decorated on the hairpin, Buddha box hanging on the chest, and a long string of metal coins, waist knives, and fire boxes. Young woman plait two braids and mixed them with bright yarns. In pastoral area woman combed small braids on her back, some of which are intertwined with each other or adorned with jewelry, such as agates and jade.
Tibetan garments are various and colorful, featuring in the matching and composition of colors. During performances and festivals, these garments have always been the flash points. In daily life, their clothing is mainly in blue and white with gorgeous belts or laces. Robes for women are often used cross-patterned flower jerseys, giving people a sense of kindness and lovingness.
Tibetan jewelry, mainly in silver, gold, pearl, agate, jade, jade, coral and amber, is widely used in headwear, hair accessories, earrings, necklaces, waist ornaments and rings. With beautiful and natural appearance, they are undoubtedly the crowning touch in Tibetan garments.
There is a representatively luxurious tiara, called Bazhu., it is a ornament, covered with jewelry, sun as gold, silver, jade, coral and gems, with the bifurcated side fixed to the top of the head. In ancient times, it was a headdress that only nobles could afford to wear.