In Hainan, Li women wear a decoration where they once carried a weapon. This is called a “virgin’s hair dress.” The incised ox rib is an adoption from the blade which women once wore to protect their honor. Ornamental patterns like waves, fish, flowers, fruits, and geometric designs cover the pins.
These pins are made by craftsmen using ox or other long gently curved white bones, which are polished, then carved. Lampblack and melted beeswax are used to make the pattern stand out against the white bone. The decoration on top is a helmet, turban or hair that is coiled. Then the bone ornament is adorned with either one or two heads, and the body extends to the feet or the end of the pin.
The hair pins that are very delicately carved into the shape of a human being are said to represent a warrior ancestor and tribal leader protecting his people. The beautiful incised bone pin is inserted in a typical “Run-Style Hair,” worn in a bun, by Run-dialect-speaking women. When the women marry, they wear numerous hair pins depicting their ancestors to bring good luck and blessings.