The Mongolian ethnic minority is chiefly distributed in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region of China, and they call themselves "Mongolians", meaning "Eternal Fires". People also call them "an ethnic minority on horseback". The Mongolians have their own language and alphabets. Mongolian women's headwear is unique.
Mongolian women often use a branched wooden stick as their headwear. The branched end is wrapped with cotton into a knot, and then is sewn up with a piece of cloth. When a girl gets married, she will undo her pigtail and separate her hair in halves from the middle, with each half plaited into many small tails. Put the tails on one side over this wooden knot evenly, use a leather lace to fasten them under the knot, and then the hair and wooden stick are fixed together. Then, she will insert it firmly into a cone-shaped hair cover, with a ribbon hanging below. At the knotted part, a semicircular ornament should be covered, with a button fixing it on the knot from behind (inside). The whole combination is calledLianchui.
Toudaiincludes six parts: hair hoop, back shield, earmuff, pendant, horsehair and eardrops.
Hair hoop, the circle on top of the head on the topside of the headwear, varies in size with the head. It is usually as wide as three or four fingers, made of black cloth lining or red brass; there are eight to ten square hoops around it. In the hoops there are bulging lotus patterns and inlaid bright red corals, especially the one on the forehead is largest and brightest. There is a turquoise next to each hoop, and all the other space is decorated with tiny corals. Above and below the hair hoop are set one to three lines of coral beads.
Back shield, the part of the headwear screening the neck and the shoulders, can reach the waist, and is made of a thick black cloth liner.
Earmuffs are nailed on both sides of the hair hoop, to screen the ears and the gap on both sides of the back shield. They are hanging on both sides and also made of cloth lining.
Pendants refer to the ornaments hanging on both sides of the cheeks, which are in bilateral symmetry. The pendants can be classified into two kinds. The one is calledDiaogua(hanging ornament), formed by five pendants. The way of stringing each pendant is the same: from the top to the bottom, there is a big coral, a silver bundle, a big coral, a rectangular turquoise, a big coral, a silver bundle, a bid coral, and finally aTaonalejie(an kind of Mongolian ornament).
Horsehair is the part of the headwear covering the forehead. Another ornament is the silver bell. Despite as big as a bean, it is an elegant, four-edge or six-edge object, with carved patterns on each side. It is resplendent with all colors, and used by young women only. If a woman is over 40, she will not wear it.
The eardrops are used instead of the earring, and there is one on each side of the face. It is made of pure silver, as thick as a finger, and as heavy as oneJin(approximately 0.5 kilogram).