Phase 1: Posing Real Questions

Updated 4 years 11 months ago

Now that my work in Phase 0 is done, I will start working on Phase 1, where I will be answering and posing questions related to my topic. In Phase 0 I choose my topic: Everyday Clothing/Hairstyles/Fashion and Bai Minority Culture-Clothing. 

Before we start the research, we have to gather the knowledge we already know and what we want to know. I do not know a lot of information relating to my topic but through some visits to Yunnan, and browsing other student's inquiry projects, this is what I know summed up in a paragraph.

I have seen the Bai Minorities quite a few times, I visited the Bai Minority when I was younger.  I remember they have headdresses and that many Bai people do not actually wear the Bai traditional clothing as everyday clothing anymore. It is only used for tourism and attraction purposes. I know that from other student's projects, such as Livia from Kryptonite and Vicky from The Ballistic Baba-Eating Bubble Breakers. From their experience, I gathered that the villager's everyday hairstyles and clothing are about the same as us. But what I found very interesting is the clothing between the ages, and I am going to explore deeper into that. I would like to know how the age and experiences affect what you wear. I know upbringing, environment, job, and personality, affects what you wear, I know normal working class citizens such as saleswomen, fishermen, or farmers will not wear stylish or very expensive clothing. And I know that personality affects the colours or style, lively, outgoing girls probably will wear brighter colours compared to older, more reserved men will wear darker colours.

I have to do some research on my topic, to be able to use my time efficiently in Xizhou, this is what I would like to know about my topic before I start to research. This will help make my research more effective if I have a clear view of what I want to know.

I would like to know more on how personality, upbringing, and environment influence a person's dress or style in the village, and how the traditional clothing is made and how it has changed. To watch people's style and understand why they dress that way and how it differs from us.  Most of all I would like to dig deeper into my topic and Bai clothing, and find out why the clothing was designed like that in the first place and why do people wear the clothing they do.

I have done some background research on my topic, to better assist me later when developing questions and ideas for my research project in the village, also to make my time at the village more efficient and productive. Phase 3 is where all my background research is located.

The following questions are 10 of my major starting questions, that will help guide me through the research later. These 10 questions are the fuel source in my inquiry project, and below are sample answers gathered from my knowledge so far, without any additional research. These questions form the foundation for my inquiry project.

Traditional Clothing and Design: This group of questions focus on the traditional clothing and the Bai art of tie-dye and embroidery. I put these questions first because I realize the importance of understanding the traditional clothing and art of the Bai before I can explore more into the everyday clothing, and their differences and changes.

1. How is the traditional clothing of the Bai designed and made?
The traditional red and white dresses contrast greatly, especially when complimented with darker colours, as the Bai like to accessorize with darker colours than the ones that they wear. The ethnic Bai dresses are intricately decorated, with camellia blossoms a popular design, as the camellia blossom symbolizes beauty. Usually, the dresses have detailed cross-stitch embroidery, and lace sewn onto the sides.Yet as decorated as the dresses are, they still give the Bai woman a clean and orderly look. The headdress/headscarf that the women wear is very important in Bai culture, typically all of the four elements are represented in the headdress. The headscarf is made into a crescent shape, which resembles the moon, the bottom half of the head scarf is adorned with embroidered flowers while the top half is left a fluffy white resembling snow. The tail of the scarf falls over the shoulder, following the wind's movement.This my research on the traditional clothing but I am not sure if the actual village will have the same styles and fashion as the information I have drawn from online sources. 

2. What is the Bai Batik and how is it made?
There are two processes in the creation of the Bai Batik. For the first method you first paint on the pattern, then you sew along the lines of your pattern, and pull it tight, you can then scrunch up the parts you do not want to stain with dye with the remaining string. After that, you dip the cloth into the hot dye and leave it there for a little while. Finally, you take the cloth out, dry it and rinse it. The wax printing process is slightly different, instead of sewing you put hot wax on the areas of the cloth you do not want to stain with dye. When the wax is fully dry, you soak the cloth into a cold water of dye. Finally, it is dried and rinsed in hot water, as the hot water melts the wax. Both of these methods produce beautiful tie-dyed pieces that the Bai are famous for around the world. This my research on the Bai Batik but I am not sure if the actual village will have the same styles and fashion as the information I have drawn from online sources. 

3. How is the Bai tie-dye and embroidery important to the Bai minority and their clothing?
The Bai batik and embroidery is used to decorate almost all of their clothing, it is a way of life and a skill that is very important to them. Many Bai people make a living on this, and not to mention embroidery and tie-dye being a significant part of their culture.

Everyday Clothing/Style: This set of questions focus on what the Bai currently wear, which I will observe and research more in the village.

4. What do the Bai/Xizhou people wear or how do they style their hair on an everyday basis?
This is one of the questions where I will dig deeper into once I arrive at the village because I have not explored Xizhou and the fashion there yet. But I do know they dress modestly, no longer wearing the bright traditional clothing famous for the Bai. I know that some popular hairstyles for adult women are curly hair usually dyed or with highlights, in my research I came across young women putting their hair in a ponytail, pigtail or cut it short. 

5. Why do they wear these clothes or style their hair in a particular way?
Today in China having dyed hair or highlighted hair is very popular everywhere especially in big cities. Hair dyed a different color other than black creates some variation, makes them unique and stand out, and makes them look more western. I believe this is why it is such a popular hairstyle. A reason why younger, teenage women might cut their hair shirt or pull their hair up is because they are still in school, they typically have to do schoolwork run errands and do chores. Having their hair out of the way will make their work more efficient. Another reason why these hairstyles are so popular amongst young woman could be that in local Chinese schools, school teachers demand their students with long hair to always have it pulled up for them to look tidy and presentable. I believe the same goes for clothes that they only wear the clothes they do because it is  comfortable and suitable to wear to work, or just leads to work being more efficient.

6. How does the everyday fashion/hairstyles in Xizhou differ from what we wear in Shanghai?
This is one of the questions where I will dig deeper into once I arrive at the village because I have not explored Xizhou and the fashion there yet. What we wear in Shanghai would probably more western and modern or we might wear more brand names. This will probably happen because we live in the largest, most industrial city in China, there is a lot more clothing and hairstyle options for us than for the people from the Xizhou village.

Change and influence on clothing: This set of questions focuses on the change in the Bai clothing and what has influenced Bai clothing.

7. What factors can affect the clothing you wear/how does personality, upbringing, and environment affect the clothing you wear?
Personality, upbringing, and environment can affect what you wear greatly, first and foremost what you will be wearing would probably be appropriate for the environment you're in. It is impractical to wear a ski jacket in a desert in the middle of summer. Personality can affect your choice in the clothes you would like to wear and the colours and styles you would like. A bright, outgoing young woman would probably choose to wear pink instead or a dark grey. An older more reserved man would probably choose colours more like a soft grey or a dark blue. Lastly, I will leave the upbringing for me to discover in the Xizhou village, my classmates and I, we all have a different upbringing than the villagers. Going to the village will help me solve the final piece of the puzzle.

8. How has the tourism affected everyday clothing/traditional clothing?
I know tourism has become one of the sources of money for the village, and that the Bai only wear the traditional clothing for tourism purposes. And I plan to find out more once I get to the village.

9. How has the traditional/everyday clothing of the Bai changed over the years?
I am not sure how it has changed but I know that the Bai don't wear the traditional clothing they used to wear instead they wear more modern clothing that incorporates concepts from the traditional clothing. 

10. Why has the Bai everyday clothing/traditional clothing changed?
I know that the Cultural Revolution has affected the clothing worn, but not sure exactly how. I also know that the Xizhou villages have been more influenced by the western clothing that has become more common in stores in China.

I have answered all of my old questions after a few weeks of hard research here in Xizhou. Please see Phase 3 for details and the answers to all of my ten big questions.

Later on, I will have to do more research on my ten major questions. After that I will hopefully have some ideas for most of my questions, as the basic background research I have done in Phase 3 but not enough for me to have a clear answer and sense of direction in my Inquiry project. Some places I plan to do more research on, are the importance of Bai tie-dye, embroidery and clothing makers to the village, how tourism plays a role in Bai every day and traditional fashion, and what factors affect the clothing you wear. Now I will move on to Phase 2, where I will be finding helpful resources that will contribute to my inquiry project, and provide answers to my ten major questions.

Hi, I'm Nicole L. I was part of Group Phenomena, and my Microcampus journey is now over. I am currently back from Xizhou. I have now left Shanghai American School but I will forever remember Xizhou, as it was one of the best months of my life. You will not regret coming to Xizhou, and I wish future Microcampus students a journey as amazing as mine!