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Miss Stone

Guizhou Miao Silver Art – A Dying Culture Heritage of China

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Miss Stone

Guizhou, a province in southeast China, is famous for its beautiful landscape and rich ethnic culture. Among all the 48 ethnic minority groups in Guizhou (55 in China), Miao is the largest one, with around 48% of the province's entire population. 



Landscape of Guizhou: Kaili



Guizhou Ethnic Minorities


One of the most famous cultures of Miao is it’s exquisite silver accessories. Silver ornaments are not only crucial during weddings, funerals and holidays, but also for daily life wearing. Miao people’s favor of silver has historical reasons. In ancient time, Miao moved from one place to another often. They used silver to test the quality of water, and also used the bells on sliver accessories to make sounds to track each other. Thus, Miao people believed that silver has the power to eliminate lousy luck and diseases. Such tradition has been lasting until now. 



Chinese Miao Silver Jewelry



Vintage Chinese Miao Silver Jewelry



Vintage Chinese Miao Silver Jewelry - Earrings


A famous saying among Miao is “no silver, no flower, not a woman” to indicate the significant meaning of silver jewelry to Miao people. The Miao silver for formal events is usually presented in a very comprehensive set. Despite the regular necklaces, earrings, bracelets, there are some unique accessories including silver head flowers, silver ox horns for headdress, silver comb, silver hat, silver shawl, etc. Whether the set is huge and heavy enough is an essential measure for Miao people to see as beautiful or not.


Miao Girl wearing a full set of silver ornaments, Guizhou, China



Miao Girl wearing a full set of silver ornaments, Guizhou, China


Miao silver crafting is now in the Chinese culture heritage list. However, this art is facing significant difficulties in preserving. In Miao villages, almost every village has their silver crafters. Unfortunately, the fast urbanization and job opportunities have “steal” the young generations away, and only leave the "old grandpa crafters" in the villages now. In the end, it is not difficult for the young generation to choose between sitting on a chair doing time-consuming jewelry crafting work and earning cash in city area fast and easily. No need to mention, in many crafters family, this art only goes to males.


Crafer Making Miao Silver

How can we save this dying art?

I believe that everyone who has the opportunity to see the Miao silver art pieces in real will be impressed by the elegance just like myself once did. We are working together with crafters in Guizhou to design fashion jewelry made by traditional skills and target to promote Chinese jewelry made from traditional techniques to the world. We do believe, the best way to protect such art is to make it known countrywide and worldwide. Only people's love will finally bring new life to it.




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I have travelled a fair bit in Guizhou and have seen a lot of that silverwork being made. However, I'm suspicious of the quality/purity of the silver. I mean, there's no way to check it when buying. 

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