Nomad Culture Design

I’m designing a nomad tribe for my thesis. They should be aggressive, mobile, and primitive. They were from in the cold North, and then conquered a half of the Southern empire. They adapted some technics form the Southerners, but overall they still kept their tradition. Here’s my design:


Composition: Most part of their clothing was made of cloth. But fur was used to decorate the rim (such as the hat’s rim and the collar). Metal was expensive among them since they barely knew how to forge. They appreciated asymmetrical design.

Color: They had very limited color range. Usually their cloths were dyed by plant ash or juice of bark, which was either black or dark brown. Other colors were rare. Also they adored red, since it looked good on their wheat-colored skin. Red gems such as coral were popular.
Value: Though not having fancy dyes, they still colored their cloths beautifully by using high contrast.
Pattern: Although they were adapting cloths instead of furs, they still dye cloths mimicking animal fur textures. They also had some embroidered patterns, too.

So why do they look like that? Where do all those elements come from?

I get references from Manchurians, Tsaatan people, Kazakhs, Chukchi people, Kyrghyz people, and Tibetans.

Let’s start from Manchurians.

Portrait of the Imperial Bodyguard Zhanyinbao, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), dated 1760 Unidentified Artist (Chinese, 18th century).

Hong Taiji, 2nd emperor of Qing Dynasty. reign from 1626 to 1643.


Yongzheng Emperor, 5th emperor of Qing Dynasty, reign from 1723 to 1735.

Their robes open at the right. Their hats are peaky at the top. The emperor’s robe has dark edging. And the end of Hong Taiji’s sleeves are dark blue, which is derived from archery bracer.
By the time these paintings were made, Manchurians had already became the ruler. And their clothes were made of luxurious materials with Han embroider patterns on them. But the structure of the upper part is still mobile enough for nomads.
So the next step is trying to find what REAL nomads look like.

Photos of this section all come from

Contemporary Tsaatan people, Mongolia.

Contemporary Kazakhs.

Contemporary Chukchi people, Russian.

Apparently they don’t have delicate robes but fur coats. Furs are not like silks or cloths, they’re hard to embroider, and they’re either brown or white. Even though they still make beautiful clothes. Those people arrange different colors on the fur thoughtfully, and make some simple geometric patterns. For example: The collar to the knee of Chukchi appeal are brown, and the boots are white. On the white boots, there are some rectangular patterns. And for Kazakh people, they arrange the fur relatively arbitrarily, but they have heavily decorated belt — which is a focal point of their appeal.
Now I have the overall look of my nomads, I need some special details which haven’t been used too much.


Kyrgyz hat is white on the upper part with a black edging. It has some spiral patterns which curves no more than 180 degree.

Contemporary Tibetan, China.

Contemporary Tibetan, China.

The jewelries on their braids are interesting. They’re made of compound metal and coral. They look like rings with a big cylindrical coral on the top. And they have some dot patterns along the edges. These 2 photos are from


During researching all these tribes, they are not only giving me references for character design, but also mounts, knives, and other props.


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