An Introduction to the Ethnic Minority Groups of China – Part 1 – the Miao and Uyghur People

Written by Harry Wilson

In this new series, it is our goal to introduce you to the areas in which the ethnic groups of China live. Each blog post will introduce you to the region and the customs of a few groups, giving advice on places to visit as well as the best times of the year if you wish to have the best cultural experience.   China has 55 official minority groups and today’s post will take you on a journey through the regions of two of them, namely those of the Miao and Uyghur people.

The Miao ethnic people are mainly found in Southwest China and are most well-known for their embroidered products made by the Miao ladies.  The Miao ladies (often referred to as Hmong ladies) learn both Batik and embroidery from the age of six or seven and spend years mastering this craft.  They use embroidery to tell stories and record their cultural heritage, which in 2006 was named Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO.

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Miao Lady in a hand-embroidered dress

The Miao people live in over 700 cities throughout the South of China and number over seven million, with the around one-third of China’s Miao people living in the Wuling and Miaoling mountain range in the Guangxi Autonomous Region and in the Guizhou Province.  Mount Fanjing is the highest peak in this mountain range and is found in the Guizhou province, where many Miao tribes are located.  Most of these areas have a rather mild climate with large amounts of rainfall.   The Miao people are extremely self-sufficient and live in houses which are one or two stories.  The rear of the house is built on the mountain slope and the front typically rests on stilts.  Grain is stored in the ceiling and the bottom of the house is typically used to keep livestock and poultry.

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A village heavily populated by Miao people in the Guizhou Province

There are dozens of Miao festivals throughout the year.  One of the most important festivals is the offering of sacrifice to ancestors which are performed at fixed dates throughout the year.   The Miao people farm and hunt extremely diligently during the appropriate seasons and sacrifices following these seasons are common in order to help the people socialize and celebrate.  During holidays such as the Spring Festival (lunar New Year) the Miao people participate in songs, dances, horse races, reed-pipe wind music, and dating.  All of these events are rich in cultural heritage.  Take a look at the video below to get an insight into the Miao people, their region, customs and festivals:

The Miao people are extremely hospitable and will always keep their house open to guests, who are greeted with both wine and songs.   If you visit the region, make sure you prepare for the weather, but mainly for an amazingly rich variety of high quality embroidered clothing, incredibly spicy food (mainly rice-based dishes) and an outstanding cultural experience!

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A variety of rice in different colors prepared by the Miao people (ranging in spiciness)

The second ethnic group which we will discuss in this post is the Uyghur people.  They are a Turkic ethnic group found across East and Central Asia.  The majority of Uyghurs live in the Xinjiang Uyghur Autonomous Region in Northwest China.  This region borders several countries such as Mongolia, Russia and Kazakhstan amongst others.   The borders of this region are largely occupied by several mountain ranges including the rugged Karakoram, Kunlun and Tian Shan ranges.

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The Eastern portion of the Tianshan mountain range in Xinjiang was named a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2013 with the rest of the range following suit in 2016.    

Modern-day Uyghurs are primarily Muslim and constitute the second largest Muslim group in China after the Hui people.

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An Uyghur mosque in Khotan By Colegota – Own work 

The most interesting cultural aspects of the Uyghur people are found in the music, dance and arts.  Uyghur folk music is produced using several handmade instruments including the Dutar, Khushtar and Rawap and examples of several traditional Uyghur instruments can be seen and heard by clicking the following link:

This traditional music is often accompanied by the Sanam dance which is a popular folk dance.  It is commonly seen at weddings, festivities and parties.  It is a group dance which is most often seen during Newruz (New Year) and the dances are often accompanied by singers or people playing the traditional Uyghur hand-drum known as the dap.

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A variety of Uyghur instruments found in a local store

Uyghur food is a combination of Central Asian and Chinese cuisine.  One of the most famous Uyghur dishes is polu (known also as pilaf) and is typically served with carrots, mutton and rice.

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A typical Uyghur dish of polu by Rjanag – Own work

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When visiting an Uyghur area, be prepared for similar levels of hospitality,  lots of meat-based dishes, hauntingly beautiful music and traditional clothing such as the Chapan and Doppa.

We hope that you have enjoyed this unique insight into the areas and customs of the Miao and Uyghur people and will come back soon for an introduction to another selection of fascinating ethnic groups!


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 13 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion via ChineseFashionStyle.com, Kungfu Fashion, 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!

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Hmong in America: Keeping in Touch with Old Roots

Written by John Murphy

 

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Have you heard of the Hmong people? The Hmong are one of the ethnic groups referred to as the Miao in China- the name is sometimes interchangeable. Did you know that there are actually a large group of Hmong people living in America? Many of the Hmong in America were initially resettled after the Vietnam War, fleeing as refugees from a homeland that had been rendered unsafe. Initially, in 1975, only around 3500 Hmong people were granted asylum in the United States, but by 1980 there were 30,000 Hmong people living in the United States. The number of Hmong refugees in America slowed for a bit during the early 1980s but increased again between 1987 and 1994– at this time 56,000 Hmong refugees were accepted into the United States. As of 2018, the Hmong population in the United States is around 281,000. In comparison, there are around 9.4 million Hmong people living in China (China is the country with the largest Hmong population in the world). Needless to say, the Hmong population in America is small, but they are still a very significant ethnic minority in the United States, and they represent a unique and fascinating culture.

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Initially, Hmong refugees in the United States were dispersed throughout the country by various organizations and often placed in poorer neighborhoods, which at the time consisted of primarily African American residents. Over time, however, the Hmong people generally moved together and consolidated so they could be around other Hmong people. Nowadays, the highest concentration of Hmong people in America is in the states of California, Minnesota, and Wisconsin.  St. Paul, Minnesota is interesting in that it has the most Hmong people per capita in the United States (roughly 10% of St. Paul is made up of Hmong people). Why is this? The cost of living in St. Paul is much lower than some other parts of the country, and jobs (such as factory jobs) were more readily available. So, living in St. Paul allowed Hmong families, who were disadvantaged in a capitalist society, to afford the necessities for a successful life.

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Hmong Americans at the University of Wisconsin

 

Hmong Americans have historically faced many challenges. However, the new generation of Hmong Americans is educated and displaying a large amount of social mobility. One struggle for Hmong Americans is the question keeping in touch with their traditional culture. Many young Hmong Americans feel like they need to identify with American culture in order to fit in, and that a lot of traditional ideas are incompatible with modern society. However, while many young Hmong Americans feel it is necessary to reform some of their traditional ideals (e.g. more rights for women and no teenage brides,) they still keep in touch with their old culture by celebrating holidays and dressing up in traditional garb. While there is still a lot of work to be done to eliminate poverty Hmong American communities, ultimately, the story of the Hmong in America is an uplifting and inspiring one and truly representative of the famous ideal of the ‘American Dream’!

 

 

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 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Kungfu Clothing, 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!

Miao Baby Customs: Childbirth and Child-rearing

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Written by John Murphy

Are you familiar with the culture of the Miao people? In the West, you may have heard of the Hmong people; the Hmong have the same roots as the Miao. Today I want to share with you the beliefs and customs the Miao people have toward regarding child-rearing and pregnancy. Long before a newborn baby leaves the mother’s womb, Miao parents consider many things about a newborn baby’s future. It is customary for Miao people not to widely discuss a pregnancy with others, fearing that if word gets out the baby is at risk to be harmed by evil spirits. So, it is common for an expecting Miao mother not to make any announcement until it is physically apparent that she is pregnant. During childbirth, mothers and mothers-in-law help out, while the father helps cut the umbilical cord and washes the newborn. Just like in the West, having a baby is a big event in a family’s life and requires participation from many members of the family.

Another belief prevalent among the Miao people, is that a child must be born on a “right” day in order to have an auspicious future. For the Miao, this means girls being born on even days (e.g. 2, 4), and boys being born on odd days (e.g. 1, 3). The Miao calendar follows a lunar cycle and begins with an odd day until 29 or 30 days, when it resets. The Miao people aren’t the only ones to follow the lunar calendar– in fact, all ethnic minorities in China celebrate their traditional holidays in accordance to the lunar calendar.

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But after a child is born, what is his or her future growing up in Miao society? Well, traditionally, the Miao people follow gender roles, where the man is expected to provide the material and spiritual needs for his family, and the woman is expected to raise the kids and maintain the household. Parents often hope for a male child because a son is able to continue the family line and provide sacrifices to ancestors, as well as take care of his aging parents. For spiritual reasons, Miao custom dictates parents are not allowed to live with a grown-up daughter and son-in-law, and so parents fear they will lack a sanctuary to reside in at old age if they do not have a son. This is why if a Miao woman’s first child is a male, it is said she has brought her family good fortune. Of course, times are changing, and we do not know what the future will look like in Miao society. It may seem like some of these traditional beliefs are limiting, but it is important to acknowledge the role of tradition in fleshing out culture. And it is clear that the culture of the Miao people is very fascinating. If this interests you, you can check out more information about the Miao people on the Interact China website, or in other posts on this blog!

 

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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 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Kungfu Clothing, 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!

 

Wedding Dresses of Chinese Ethnic Minorities

Written by Sabrina Bennis

China is home to 56 different ethnic groups, giving place to a great variety of different wedding customs and rituals. Although nowadays it is frequent that couples decide to wear modern Western wedding clothes, many preserve their tradition and cultural background. Let us look at some of the most beautiful wedding gowns of five Chinese ethnic minorities.

The Miao

The main feature of the Miao’s wedding attire is the finely embroidered dress and the intricate silver ornaments.  Embroidery is a traditional Miao skill that girls are taught by their mothers since a young age. The first work of embroidery that a girl undertakes, at the age of seven or eight, is her wedding dress, which she will finish the day of her marriage. In the Miao culture, the ability of a woman to produce beautiful embroidery is as important a marriageable asset.

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The bride’s finely embroidered wedding dress is complemented by silver jewelry. It is comprised of silver tiara hairpins, combs and earrings, a silver collar and chains, silver chaplets and necklaces, as well as rings and bangles worn on the wrist and the ankles. Parents start collecting silver jewelry for their daughter’s wedding as infants. On the day she gets married, a Miao woman can wear up to 10 kg of exquisitely fashioned silver. The more the merrier, as these ornaments are not only a symbol of feminine beauty but also a sign of social status representing the bride’s family wealth.

 

The Hmong

The Hmong people are a sub-group of the Miao ethnic group. Wedding attires of this minority are very colorful and are usually made of pleated batik with appliqué decorations. Women typically wear a skirt and a jacket, both of which are covered with an apron that is worn in front of them and tied at the back. The jacket and the apron are decorated with multicolored beads. The bride also wears a big embroidered headdress that is also adorned with colorful beads hanging from it.

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The Qiang

The Qiang people mainly live in mountainous regions in the northwestern part of Sichuan province. The female wedding attire is an ankle-long red dress and an apron tied around the waist. Embroidery has a deep cultural value for the Qiang people, and just as it is the case with the Miao, women get taught this skill from a young age. Therefore, the wedding dresses are decorated with rich embroidery, usually flowery patterns. The colors most used are red, blue, yellow, green, and pink.

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Brides also wear a vertically-inclined embroidered headdress with plum blossom ornamentation. Qiang people wear YunYun shoes, a kind of handmade cloth shoe that has the shape of a boat and has cloud pattern on it.

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The Bai

Just as in the Western culture, Bai brides wear white at their wedding.  However, instead of a long dress, they wear a top and pants. White is the favorite color of this ethnic minority, representing dignity and a high social status. The other dominant color of the Bai wedding attire is red. Over these garments, Bai women wear a delicate and finely embroidered waistcoat and apron, which tend to be red, green, light blue and rose; and are adorned with camellia flowers because they are believed to symbolize beauty.

 

Depending on the area, Bai women also wear charming headdresses that nicely match with their clothes. Although the traditional Bai wedding attire has some colorful touches, it maintains a simple yet elegant style.

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The Mongols

Mongolian couples wear traditional clothing called Del which is made from cotton and silk with patterns. Typically, the groom wears dark colored Del and the bride lighter colors such as red and pink. The female tunic is long-sleeved and is decorated with intricate appliqué brocade.

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Brides also wear elaborated traditional jewelry around their neck and hanging from their hair. Gemstones and semi-precious stones such as Turquoise and Sapphires are favorites of the Mongolian people. A headdress is worn by both the groom and the bride, but its shape and adornments vary from place to place.

 

 

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 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Kungfu Clothing, 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!

Mongolian Jewelry

Elaborately detailed filigree and brilliantly colored enamels are the signatures of Mongolian jewelry making. This traditional technique has distinctive Russian and Chinese influences and follows a process that has remained unchanged for generations.

Mongolian Jewelry Making

549The filigree work is typically hand-fashioned with tweezers using silver wires which are shaped into flowers, butterflies and other subjects. At approximately 1700 degrees F, the wire structure is then carefully fired in a kiln where they are fused together with silver dust. This first process provides the framework for the piece. Fine enamel powder is then blended and packed into the frame, and briefly fired in the kiln again several times at 1500 degrees F. During this second firing, the enamel fuses into a durable glasslike finish.

Finally, gemstones are set, and the piece is typically plated with 24KT gold. Stones such as Chrysocolla, Rhodocrosite, Chrysoprase, Water Sapphires and Black Star of India are favorites of Mongolian artisans. Semiprecious stones like Garnets, Lapis, Amethyst, Madeira Citrine, Onyx and Turquoise are also popular in traditional Mongolian designs.

The work is exacting and demanding, since working with any filigree frame could involve destruction of the fragile framework. The artists are all extensively trained in the basic techniques and over time are considered master craftsmen. Interestingly, because filigree and enameling are very different skills, many Mongolian jewelry items require two artists to complete. No one artist is trained in both procedures.

Many of the young people of the area are turning their backs on the old ways and going into urban areas of China to make lives for themselves. It is an endangered and dying art form and because of the sheer beauty and quality of the jewelry, several museums around the world are selling the works of art in their museum shops. They consider it a Chinese cultural treasure.

Caring for Filigree Jewelry:

Although it is sterling silver and very sturdy, it is made of hundreds of fine wires. The brilliant colors are achieved by the use of enamel powder, kiln-fired to create “glass”. Consequently, gentle care should be used with these unique pieces. Keep in a plastic bag with the air expelled to minimize oxidation. Clean with a liquid cleaner acceptable for use with pearls, lapis, turquoise or other porous stones.

 

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 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Kungfu Clothing, 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!

Chinese Ethnic Minority Satchels – Part Two

Due to a large number of branches and the wide distribution of the Yi people, their costumes and varieties are the richest of all, featuring satchels of varied materials, patterns and decorations. Rough statistics show that Yi satchels fall into the following types:

Leather Bags

 
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They are generally made of soft cowhide or sheepskin, with some parts still covered in hair, giving the satchels a crude and clumsy appeal. In some places in Northwestern Yunnan, Yi people prefer to use chamois to make satchels, which look elegant and are very precious.

Grass and hemp satchels

 
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Some Yi people in Western Yunnan use a kind of wild grass to make clothing. The locally called “Huocao Grass” is known in Latin as Epilobium angustifolium. The procedure of this kind of cloth is quite complicated, so satchels made of this cloth are very precious and hardly available on the markets.

Satchels made of hemp are fairly common and durable. Stiff and durable, flaxen bags are masterpieces of ethnic satchels and they are the favorite of many tourists from home and abroad.

Cotton Bags

 
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Satchels made of cotton cloth boast the largest number in terms of pattern and type. Those made of relatively refined cotton cloth mostly feature embroidered patterns — mainly patterns of flowers and plants, human figures, animals, melons and fruit, as well as auspicious signs, bearing beautiful colors.

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 12 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ 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!

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
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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

 
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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.

 
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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.

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!

Chinese Ethnic Minority Satchels – Part One

China has 56 ethnic groups distributed across a vast land of 9.6 million square km — each with its own special costumes. However, most Chinese ethnic minorities share the custom of wearing satchels. As a part of their costumes, satchels display different living habits and the craftsmanship of these groups.

Dai Ethnic Minority

 
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The satchel, called the “Tong pa” in the Dai language, is a practical craftwork adored by the Dai people, for both women and men, young and old. During country fairs, nearly all Dai fellows in the marketplace wear a satchel. The elderly use satchels to hold cigarettes, betel nuts and some sundries, while the young wear them mostly for decorative purposes or to send it to their loved ones. A small bag is usually installed in an interlayer in the satchel to store cash and other valuables.

Satchels worn by the Dai people are mainly made of cotton-woven Dai brocade and feature beautiful hues and rich patterns. Common patterns include auspicious shapes, such as elephant feet, tortoise shells, bats and so on; realistic ones, such as patterns of peacocks, bajiao banana flowers, horses, legendary animals, golden pheasants, lotuses, butterflies and so on; as well as signs, such as auspicious characters and religious symbols. These patterns are not only decorative but also express good wishes.

Miao Ethnic Minority

 
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The Miao people have been famous for their accomplishments in weaving the “five-color cloth” since ancient times and for the Miao brocade and wax printing. The Miao ethnic minority inYunnan Province comprises many groups and is distinguished by its costumes, such as the Red Miao, White Miao, Black Miao, Blue Miao, Big Flowery Miao, etc. Satchels, as an attachment to costumes, should complement the costumes. Therefore, different groups of the Miao people wear satchels of various styles.

The Miao culture and history have been passed down by word of mouth or symbols. As an artistic language of symbols, the patterns on Miao brocades contain many traditional contents from the ethnic minority and recite numerous legends, tales and ancient stories. Therefore, just like costumes of the Miao people, their satchels not only feature a distinctive aesthetic significance, but also carry rich cultural connotations.

Zhuang Ethnic Minority

 
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Folk brocade of the Zhuang people has been famous for a long time and their embroidery is also very unique. One can experience the Zhuang people’s deft embroidery skills from their satchels.

“Nine Dragon s playing with a Ball” is a common subject in the Zhuang brocade patterns. Other brocade patterns on satchels include butterflies, bats, the sun and the moon, flowers and other auspicious elements.

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 12 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ 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!

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!