You Wenfeng: Fish Skin Clothing

Date: Apr 18, - Nov 1, 2007
Curated by: Natalia Nekrassova

The traditional culture of the Hezhe, a Manchu-Tungus native group, was based for centuries on fishing in the Heilongjiang (Amur) River and its tributaries.  The people of the area made and wore fish skin clothing for its durability, lightness and water resistance.  When making coats, trousers, shoes, and hats, the Hezhe women skilfully combined skins of different colours and scale patterns from various species of fish.

This boy’s outfit is a wonderful, and the only, example of fish skin clothing in the Textile Museum of Canada’s collection. The maker, You Wenfeng, lives in a small Hezhe village in northeast China. She was commissioned by the TMC to create this wonderful outfit, made from 25 salmon, each weighing 5 kilograms.