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Clothing of Luoba: Hymn to Nature


Scattered primarily throughout the Luoyu Region of southeast Tibet, The Luoba ethnic group crave for beauty. They live in a vast residential area with a wide range of climates and a diversity of geographical environments. As a result, styles of the clothes worn by the Luoba people vary from one community to another.

The Luoba ethnic group: A Land of Primitive Hunting

With a population of 3,000, The Luoba ethnic group is the smallest ethnic community in China when measured by number of people. The majority of the Luoba people live in Luoyu, a region between Cha Yu and Men Yu. Tibetans first called this ethnic group “Luoba” to indicate that these people come from the southern part of Tibet. Until the Mid-20th Century, the Luoba community had remained a primitive society where people lived mainly on farming and hunting. Even today, the Luoba people still maintain some of their old practices: They use iron tools for farming and burn firewood for cooking. They go hunting and evenly distribute the game before trading it for necessity.

The Clothing of Luoba and Its Characteristics

During their social development, the Luoba people have concluded from daily life that “beauty” shall be interpreted as “a benchmark for strength and courage”. Consequently, clothing worn by the Luoba group - primarily made of natural plant’s fiber and wild animal’s fell - embodies both wildness and boldness.

The apparel worn by Luoba males symbolizes their life of hunting in the mountains. A male generally wears a self-made leather upper–body clothing or a Tibetan-style rode made of pu lu (a wollen fabric handmade in Tibetan area), covered with a black sleeveless jacket named “Na Mu”. In those mountainous regions in northern Luoyu, males wear self-made, grey-white jackets in the summer. The jacket has a big collar and long sleeves, with two buttons sewn on the right side of the chest. They also wear short pants with different patterns. When winter comes, males wear what they have purchased from Tibet: a robe made of pu lu and a long cloak made of wild ox hide. Luoba men look very handsome when they head for hunting: they carry with them bows, arrows, and other sparkling accessories. A sword tied to their belt makes their giant figure look extremely powerful.

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