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Head ornament studded with love---"Ele"

A girl elegantly dressedThe Lisus mainly inhabit mountain slope regions on either side of the Nujiang River, the Lancangjiang River and the Jinshajiang River. Previously they were divided into white Lisu, black Lisu and florid Lisu according to their clothes colors. Girls of white and black Lisu, inhabiting Fugong and Gongshan, like to tie braids with red threads decorated with little white sea shells, and married women usually like to wear pearl cap---"Ele".

A woman in elegant dress"Ele" is made of coral, pearls, shells and little copper beads. The way of making it is: choose tens of white seashells, the diameter of which is about two centimeters, drill small holes on them, and string them with thread flatly to make a round cover which can cover the back of the head. Half of the shells are connected with one copper bead each, and the copper beads are stringed together. Thus a half-moon-shaped pearl hat with shells on the back, copper string in front and white and red coral or plastic beads connecting the shells and the copper beads is made. It can cover the head, ears and temples rightly. The pieces of shells on the top of the head are like a moon hanging above, and the bead-string is under it, like a myriad of stars surrounding the moon. The copper beads are set on forehead with glistening golden light, which makes people feel magnificent and honorable. This is Lisu women's indispensable wearing. 

A girl wearing "Ele"There is a beautiful moving legend about "Ele" in Lisus' folk: in remote antiquity, the weather was very dry one year. Rivers dried up, crops withered and countless people starved to death. Guided by God Misi (one of the Gods worshiped by Lisu people), a couple of Lisu youths settled in a locality with green mountains and clear water. The man went hunting on mountains, the woman took care of the house chores and they gradually fell in love. Though they worked very hard, they lived a very difficult life. The crude hide of the young man couldn't cover his body and keep warm any more. The girl saw it and felt very distressed. So she decided to weave comfortable and suitable clothes for him. She went through all kinds of hardships and finally found some nettles. Then she tore the nettles continuously, cooked them, rinsed them and twisted them into threads. The man saw that his beloved girl took much trouble to work for him: her hair was dispersed by blasts of wind and got into the way of her view, which always pricked her eyes into tears. The young man thought inwardly whether he could make a hat for her to hold her pitch-black hair together. In one night with the bright moon hanging high, looking into the sky, he imagined that it would be pretty good if he could make a hat with materials as pure white and smooth as the moon, which could dress her like a green hill in the moon light. So he traversed the length and breadth of the land, found seashells at the foot of the Tanggula Mountain, and thus had his wish fulfilled. He used the nettle threads twisted by the girl to string the seashells and white and red fruits together, and made an artistic and tasteful "Ele". In one mid-autumn night with good harvest, the young man took out the "Ele" in his both hands and put it on the girl's head accompanied by the moonlight. The girl took out the long gown and draped it over his shoulders. The two were in deep affection and finally became life-long companions. They bore and raised their children, and multiplied descendants. Since then, Lisu young fellows who are talking love with girls must make an "Ele" to their beloved girls as a token pledging their love. Girls will weave a long gown by their own hands to send back to lovers. This custom has been followed by generations till now.

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