Category Archives: Art & Crafts

A Dixi Opera inheritor brings his craft to schools

Dixi Opera is a type of opera in Anshun of Guizhou province performed in open spaces instead of on a formal stage by actors wearing wooden masks. Developed in the early Ming Dynasty, it is actually a branch of Nuo Opera.

 Chinese opera

The opera was formerly used by farmers to pray for good weather and good harvests. When performing, the actor will wear a mask, cover his face with green yarn, hold swords and spears, and carry small flags on his back. The actor will sing, dance, and perform acrobatic fighting in time with the music.

 Chinese opera

The Anshun Dixi Opera was listed in the country’s first batch of intangible cultural heritage in 2006.

Gu Jiashun was born in a Dixi Opera family. His grandfather was the first national-level inheritor of Dixi Opera. Gu Jiashun grew up with his grandfather and began learning the opera at age 9.

 Chinese opera

Gu Jiashun has loved Dixi Opera since childhood and always hoped that Dixi Opera could be taught in schools. Finally, he opened a Dixi class for juniors in 2013 with his friends, to fulfill one of his grandfather’s last wishes. At the start, he faced strong pressure as some parents thought learning opera would affect their children’s study at school.

But gradually villagers recognized the value of the classes. Now Gu Jiashun holds Dixi Opera classes in several local schools.

“Dixi Opera plays a major part in the local culture, and I want people to be aware of this and be proud of our traditional cultural heritage,” Gu said.

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com    

About Interact China

—————————————————————————————————————————–
“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 2000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.
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P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Xinjiang keeps the traditional way of making Atlas silk

For more than 1,000 years, traditional craftsmen have been making Atlas silk in Hotan prefecture, Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region. Inspired by the shapes of flowers, leaves and fruits, the people weave beautiful patterns.

Model present Atlas silk in the Taklimakan Desert in Xinjiang Uygur autonomous region
 silk

Atlas is a traditional type of Xinjiang silk that means “graceful” in Uyghur language. It is a kind of silk fabric with fine intricate patterns that Uygur women like very much, and is renowned for its multiple and resplendent colors. Usually the colors include sharp contrasts such as viridis, sapphire, indigo, yellow, peach, orange, gold, mauve, black, white, etc. The patterns are well-knit and lifelike, representing the light and color of nature. Atlas silk is soft, flexible, beautiful in patterns and excellent in quality. It is used by the local people not only for costuming but also as an interior ornament.

Drawing Silk

 silk

The first step is drawing silk. The cocoons have to be sorted out first and the dirty and abnormal-shaped cocoons have to be boiled in water for about 15 minutes until the cocoons change to green color and are soaked with water. Then a stick is used to stir the cocoons and twist the fiber threads of the raw silk into strands. Normally, 25-30 threads make one strand.

Coloring the silk

 silk

Once the silk has been extracted it can be tied and dyed using a tie-dye or dye-resist process. It means plastic bags are used to bundle the threads up before coloring each part.

Based on the design requirement, different patterns are made by staining lightly or deeply. Different colors are made by bundling up different parts each time and dipping into different colored dyestuffs. To get the multi-coloured patterns the silk may be dyed one colour at a time. The traditional Atlas silk has four basic shades: black, red, yellow and multi-color.

Minerals like alum, indigo and natural plant extracts like walnut skin, jujube skin, and tamarisk are used to make dyestuffs.

Tying the silk

 silk

The silk is secured to a wooden frame and then tied up according to traditional patterns. Once the threads are placed into patterns the thread is loaded onto the machines for the weaving to be done.

Weaving

 silk

In accordance with the designed patterns, workers start weaving on top of the basic colors. Normally, a handmade Atlas silk is 6.45 meters long and 0.45 meters wide.

The traditional weaving method requires workers using their hands and feet at the same time and one person can produce 3-4 meters long silk per day.

 silk

Known for its softness, lightness, and bright colored patterns, Atlas silk is made through a complicated process and is extremely popular among Uygur women in Xinjiang. Nowadays, the traditional silk garment has been fused with modern design and is becoming more fashionable.

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com    

About Interact China

—————————————————————————————————————————–
“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 2000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.
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P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Gifts of love in ancient China

Have you ever been caught up in a situation that leaves you clueless on what item to buy for your boyfriend or girlfriend? The ancient Chinese were never baffled by this problem. Here are some classic gifts for lovers during ancient times. Check it out and it may provide you with unique gift ideas.

Jade pendants

a pair of Qing Dynasty jade pendants
 ladies fashion
a pair of Qing Dynasty jade pendants
 ladies fashion

The ancient Chinese usually gave their lovers something small so that they could easily take it everywhere. A jade pendant is a good choice. Moreover, according to old customs, ancient couples sometimes exchanged their jade pendants at their engagement ceremony, so these little jade decorations top the list of ancient love gifts.

Hairpins

a pair of hairpins during Qing Dynasty
 ladies fashion
A set of hairpins during Qing Dynasty
 ladies fashion

Hairpins were also a common gift for a man to give his girlfriend in ancient times. An old tradition in China was that women would cut a small lock of hair to give to their beloved at their engagement, so hair decorations symbolize a promise of love.

Comb

a Qing Dynasty comb
 ladies fashion
a Han Dynasty comb
 ladies fashion

There is a beautiful Chinese idiom, “Bai tou xie lao”, meaning the happy couple will be together until their hair turns white. Giving a comb to a loved one is a romantic promise which means “I want to be with you until we get old together”.

Jade bracelet

a pair of jade bracelet during Qing Dynasty
 ladies fashion
a pair of jade bracelet during Qing Dynasty
 ladies fashion

Ancient Chinese women loved bracelets so much. It never fails to give a woman a pair of exquisite jade bracelets

Fan pendant

a fan pendant during Qing Dynasty
 ladies fashion

Ancient Chinese men usually carried folding fans in summer. A fan pendant for the man you loved was a good idea in ancient times.

Hand-made Purse

a set of embroidered purses during Qing Dynasty
 ladies fashion
a pair of embroidered purses during Qing Dynasty
 ladies fashion

Most ancient Chinese women were good at embroidery. A hand-made embroidered purse for the man they loved represents their true love.

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com    

About Interact China

—————————————————————————————————————————–
“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 2000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.
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P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Sichuan Brocade: High-end custom-made gift from the oriental "Brocade City"

Sichuan Brocade, from China’s western metropolis of Chengdu, is one of the representatives of Chinese silk. In recent years, during the International Milan Fashion Week or fashion weeks in Paris, London and New York , you have seen fashion shows with a variety of Chinese silk fabric designed by both Chinese and foreign designers, and they even caused a Chinese style sensation.

In the Milan World Expo’s China Pavilion, the visitors can feel the charm of brocade. The tough, colorful fabric is made with multi-colored silk. Lifelike crane, flowers, fish and animals are woven by hands instead of being printed on silk fabrics. According to historical records, this manual process is a heritage with 2,000 years’ history.

Detail of the Qing Dynasty Sichuan brocade
 Chinese culture

Dating back about 1,800 years ago and during the Three Kingdoms period, Sichuan Brocade was quite popular as Chengdu was the starting point of the “Silk Road”. Sichuan Brocade was highly developed as an important national industry, and was an important diplomatic gift. To promote brocade industry, Chengdu established a specialized palace for craftsman and workshops for better management. Chengdu therefore is also known as “the city of brocade”, and the river running through the city and is also known as “the river of brocade.”

 Chinese culture

Just as the world-famous Italian clothing and shoes handmade craftsmanship, Sichuan Brocade also has a tedious making process. According to brocade craftsman, one centimeter Sichuan Brocade takes picks of 120 times. Even the most skilled weavers could only make less than 10 centimeters tapestry one day.

Weaver picks and sorts out the silk on the traditional loom
 Chinese culture

Difficult production and superb artistry endow hand-woven brocade with a high collection value and make it a luxury for ancient Chinese nobility. Italy was the end of the ancient “Silk Road” and Chengdu was the supply of goods. You can imagine that 1000 years ago, Sichuan Brocade with high-end custom-made design might also be popular among the Roman nobility.

In the near future, as the culture exchange between China and Europe become increasingly frequent, the “Chinese Fashion” with Sichuan Brocade will be used more in hand-made dress production and appear on the Milan Fashion Week and other international stages. The magical fabric from the East will shine brightly.

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com    

About Interact China

—————————————————————————————————————————–
“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 2000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.
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P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Dudou, the artistic underwear of ancient China

“Dudou”, or bellyband, is a piece of cloth that covers one’s belly. It dates back thousands of years. It was used by Chinese women as an undergarment in ancient times and can be considered China’s most original underwear.

“Red Underwear”, a painting by Liushi Zong
 Chinese clothing

Origin

Dudou was invented by the Chinese somewhen in the 17th century with the sole practical purpose to keep the chest and stomach area warm. It is just a square or rhomboidal piece of cloth with attached straps that were tied around the neck and at the back. It was worn by children, women and men alike to prevent not only cold but, according to some sources, diarrhea as well.

Dudou, early 20th century. The National Museum of Taiwan History
 Chinese clothing

Patterns

“White Rabbit and Fuwa”. This embroidery theme is a symbol of life and fertility
 Chinese clothing

This simple garment worn underneath, however, artistically decorated with embroidery. The embroidery served not just as mere decoration, each figure or pattern had a special meaning. The patterns’ subjects depended on who the dudou was intended for. Those for lovers obviously had love as their theme: romantic stories taken from operas, myths and folklore; those for young women and brides could contain figures of dragon, phoenix and fish as symbols of good luck, happiness and fertility; the patterns used for the bellybands of babies and children often had tiger as their main character who was believed to give protection against evil; dudous for older people could be embroidered with images of tortoise, a symbol of longevity.

Materials

Dudou, late Qing dynasty, satin, silver chain. Embroidery depicts “both husband and wife around the house” story. China National Silk Museum
 Chinese clothing

Traditional dudous were mostly made of silk satin. The straps could be of the same fabric or cotton but those from rich families used gold or silver chains instead.

 Chinese clothing

In recent years the dudou has made a come back, as a fashion item as well as an underwear. Nowadays there are different designs of dudou on the Chinese market that can be worn in the streets as a backless top combined with skirts or jeans or at home as a sexy lingerie.

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com    

About Interact China

—————————————————————————————————————————–
“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 2000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.
—————————————————————————————————————————–

P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Tujia Brocade-Xilankapu

Deep in the remote, mountainous region of Western Hunan Province lives one of the largest minority groups in China. They are called “Tujia,” which literally means the “Soil Family.”

In August, the osmanthus flowers blossom and send forth fragrance.

The Tujia girls are busy weaving brocade.

The fragrance drifts far away,

But the brocade girls’ cloth stretches even further.

– Song of Weaving Girls, traditional Tujia song

People of the Tujia ethnic minority are adept at the handicrafts of stone carving, embroidery, paper-cuts and textile printing. But they are most famous for their brocade. Tujia brocade has a history of 2,000 or more years and embodies the basic features of brocade weaving system of Chinese ethnic groups. It’s a very special skill and is on the UNESCO Intangible Cultural Heritage list.

 ethnic culture

The Tujia people are good at brocade weaving. The Tujia brocade is known with the name of “Xilankapu”.

Features

Xilankapu, also known as ‘Knitting Floral Bedclothes’, is a Tujia masterpiece. Woven on a simple, ancient wooden waist loom via 12 procedures, this kind of brocade, thick and durable, simple but gorgeous, is reputed to be one of the three most famous brocades in southwestern China.

 ethnic culture

On weaving machines with narrow lathes, it is woven by hand, with blue, black, red, and white threads going lengthwise and, silk, cotton, and wool of many kinds of colors going across. It has an energetic structure, bright and beautiful colors, and unique patterns, showing significant artistry. It is the quintessence of Tujia folk art. In 2006 it was listed in the state-level intangible cultural heritage.

Significance

More than four hundred kinds of traditional decorative patterns on Tujia brocade are unique forms of expression of Tujia ethnic cultural psychology and cultural heritage of different times. The patterns, favoring landscapes, trees, flowers, and animals, reflect their paying homage to nature, and their deep love for life.

 ethnic culture

With no written language, the Tujia people have relied on their traditional craft of brocade weaving to record their history and pass it on to future generations. Through the designs in the brocade, the Tujia people express their understanding not only of history, but of life, society, nature and, of course, art.

Nowadays, thousands pieces of Xilankapu have been sold all over the world every year through e-commerce and modern logistics so that people outside can know more about the culture of Tujia Minority and the market also gives a new life to the cultural heritage.

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com    

About Interact China

—————————————————————————————————————————–
“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 2000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.
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P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Horsetail Embroidery, the Unique Craft of the Shui People of China

Every ethnic group of China has its own unique way of designing and adorning their costumes and textiles. For centuries a special traditional type of embroidery, horsetail embroidery, has been kept alive by the Shui women in Guizhou province, southwest China. The horsetail embroidery is a special craft which uses horsetail hair as a main raw material for embroidery, and is passed down from generation to generation by women of Shui Nationality.

A Shui woman in traditional costume embroidered with horsetail hair
 Chinese Culture

Origin

The horsetail embroidery of Shui Nationality has an untraceable origin. Shui legend says that when one of the ancestors groomed his horse prior to a race, a lot of horse hair fell to the ground. His wife thought it would be a shame to leave these strong and glossy hairs unused. She collected them and started to use those hairs in her embroideries along with silk threads.

Techniques

Horsetail embroidery is a hard, time-consuming craft. Girls begin learning embroidery at about 5 or 6 years old. Some of them spend 10 years on a single embroidery piece, which is specially prepared for their wedding.

Working with horsetail hair
 Chinese Culture
 Chinese Culture

There are a variety of unique skills and methods involved in this craft. The first step is to take 3 to 4 pieces of horsetail hairs as the core, around which white silk threads are tightly wrapped by hand, making pre-made embroidery threads akin to bass strings. The second is to use the threads to embroider the outline of traditional embroideries and paper-cut patterns. The third is to make flat colored threads with 7 colored silk threads and use them to fill the inside area of the coiled embroidery patterns. The fourth is to complete the rest using such ordinary techniques as flat embroidery, cross-stitch embroidery, random stitch, skipped stitch, etc.

Motif

Horsetail embroidery
 Chinese Culture

Flowers, plants, and mystical creatures from Shui folklore are the common embroidery motifs. Butterfly patterns are woven mostly into children’s clothing or accessories. This is related to Shui beliefs that butterflies are children’s guardians. Dragons, a phoenix and fish also possess great symbolic meaning and are commonly seen on Shui handicraft.

Horsetail embroidery
 Chinese Culture

As another Shui legend says during an ancient flood, a brother and a sister were saved by fish. Their descendants multiplied to become the Shui ethnic group and the image of double fishes became one of the favourite motifs of the Shui artisans.

Features

The horsetail embroidery technique is very intricate, and works using the technique appears to have a bas-relief, with abstract, generalized, and exaggerated shapes.

Horsetail hair embroidered insoles
 Chinese Culture
Horsetail hair embroidered baby carrier
 Chinese Culture

Besides decorating with embroidery all parts of their traditional costume – blouse, trousers, apron, headdress, shoes and even insoles – women use the horsetail hair for embroidering baby carriers, tablecloths, wall hangings, bags and wallets.

Unfortunately, due to social changes and other reasons, the inheritance of horsetail embroidery craftsmanship has been seriously neglected and the quality of modern horsetail embroidery products has become poor. As a result, few people are willing to use such products. As such, it is imperative to protect the special craftsmanship of horsetail embroidery of Shui Nationality from disappearing forever.

by Xiao Xiao xiaoxiao@interactchina.com    

About Interact China

—————————————————————————————————————————–
“A Social Enterprise in E-commerce Promoting Oriental Aesthetic Worldwide”

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 10 years solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we position well to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and bring you direct finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 2000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.
—————————————————————————————————————————–

P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!
If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!