Colorful cap is part of the Uygur ethnic minority's habiliment, and also one of the symbols of the minority. As early as the Tang Dynasty (618-907), most males of the Western Regions wore a pointed-topped felt hat with a turnup edge, quite similar to the present-day "Sipianwa
". By the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), owing to the influence of Arabian and Central Asian culture, men of the Uygur ethnic minority had begun to shave their heads and wear small embroidered caps. In the beginning period of the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), the colorful cap of the minority developed further in material and design. Leather was used in winter and damask silk in summer, with fowl feather inserted at the front. All caps for female were decorated with purl embroidery.
Through the constant innovation by the Uygur people of all places, the colorful cap has become increasingly delicate in workmanship and progressively various in styles. But the chief types are "Qiyiman" and "Badanmu", generally called "Gaba" (four-sided tiny colorful cap).
"Qinyiman" cap is flowery in color, and its needle work is fine and smooth. It is embroidered with chromatic threads made of silver and gold, and set with some small plastic beads of various colors. Boys and girls wearing them dance and sing under the shady grape trellis.
"Badanmu" was derived fromBadanxing(prunus amygdalus), which is a tree originating from Persia, characterized by its ability to blossom and bear fruit even in an arid desert. According to the character of prunus amygdalus and its meniscoid core, the highly imaginative Uygur use white silk thread, and the technique of combination of curve, straight, dots and lines, to embroider a pattern of apricots crowded around by ripples and beads, symbolizing that trickling springs are nourishing fruitful trees. Such a simple and elegant "Badanmu" colorful cap is especially favored by middle-aged and old people.
There are many ways to embroider the colorful cap: silk thread plane embroidering, cross-shaped embroidering, silk thread knot embroidering, bead string embroidering, lattice embroidering, gold and silver embroidering, crochet embroidering, enlaced cloth with soft nap embroidering and integrated embroidering combined with brede, enlacing, cluster and entwing. Uygur women first embroider chromatic patterns on the four pieces of cap cover, then sew them together, fixing the lining on it and putting it on the wooden mold, and finally add the black velveteen margin. So, the dainty little colorful cap has come out.