Origin of the Tribe
Ordos means “many palaces” in Mongolian. Since Kublai Khan (r. 1260-1294) came to power, this tribe has taken charge of guarding the cenotaphs of Genghis Khan and his empresses (Mongolian: qatuns). During the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), it was firstly affiliated to Dayan Khan and his offspring, then to Ligdan Khan (r. 1604-1634) of Qahar. In 1635, a year after the death of Ligdan Khan, the Ordos became subordinate to the Late Jin regime (1616-1636). In 1649, the tribe was re-organized into six banners under the Ih Juu League, then subdivided into seven banners later on in 1746.
Features of the Clothing
Ordos costumes are distinctive for their designs in comparison to other tribes. A male’s robes have long slits and narrower hems. Senior men prefer long robes in dark blue, gray and brown with or without narrow edges, while the younger generation prefer blue, cyan and reddish brown ones. Compared with men’s robes, women’s robes are more fitted and are usually colored rose red, pink, light green, jasper or azure. Both adult male and married women wear waistcoats, either short or long ones.
Waistcoats or long sleeveless overcoats for women have various styles. The long one is made of black satin with 72 button loops. It is essential for weddings and rich in ceremonial and cultural values. The round hat with red tassels, capped with a pearl seated in a propitious knot, is popular among Ordos people. As the signature accessory of Ordos costumes, the headgear of women is composed of hat ornaments (with carols, turquoises and silver chains) and hair coverings (Mongolian: xibeg). Weighing 10-15 kilograms per set, the exquisite and luxurious accessory wins them the title of “the best of headgears” among other tribes. Men often keep accessories like knives, steels, punches and bowl bags while women have pouches, handkerchiefs, rings and bracelets. Cloth and leather boots with short legs are Ordos people's favorite.
Men of Ordos regard the colors of dark blue and dark brown as sumptuous and dignified, while yellow symbolizes power and can only be worn by living Buddhas and aristocrats. In addition, male waistbands are made of silk and in colors of brown, navy, azure, orange or light green with tassels on both ends. Married women, however, do not wear girdles but long fitted waistcoats. On important occasions, they wear these long waistcoats to indicate their marital status.
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