The Ancient Art of Bamboo Drifting

Written by Emma Marler

The art of bamboo drifting is breathtakingly beautiful and original. It is typical of the Guizhou region in South-Western China and it is extremely unique. Before a video of this magical dance was posted by Great Big Story, an account that has 5 million subscribers on Youtube (hyperlink the video), it was an unknown art.

So what is bamboo drifting? Let’s find out!

It originated during the Qin Dynasty (221-206 BC) as a means of transport. In fact, the city of Zunyi in Guizhou was renowned for its production of a very precious and expensive wood and it was greatly demanded by the emperors in the North of China. The problem was that in Guizhou they didn’t have big enough boats to carry the logs, so they rewarded citizens to stand and sail on one log each in order to transport them to the first destination that had adequate boats to continue the journey.

As time passed, riders became more experienced and competitive, challenging each other in balancing games and acrobatic movements. Even when in later years transporting the logs on the river was no longer a necessity, Guizhou residents never gave up their hobby. During the Qing dynasty, wood was then substituted by bamboo due to its cheaper costs and bamboo drifting competitions became extremely popular. During the Dragon Boat Festival, communities from all over Guizhou reunite to assist to different competitions, including bamboo drifting.

The biggest challenge with bamboo drifting is that the surface of the water is in constant movement so keeping your body balanced requires double the effort. For every movement you make your body shakes so you have to be able to control it, otherwise you’ll fall in the river!

Bamboo drifting started as an individual practice, one person only stood on the log to transport it. Nowadays there is not just single bamboo drifting but couple drifting as well. The Zunyi Bamboo Drifting Association started a new performance called ‘Ballet on Water’. Two dancers share one single piece of bamboo, it’s  double the difficulty!

Bamboo drifting was listed in the National Traditional Games of Ethnic Minorities, an event which takes place every four years and showcases traditional games of every one of the 56 ethnic minorities in China.

Guizhou is the most multicultural region in China, therefore bamboo drifting is not typical of just one ethnic group. The Miao Hmong people are one of the minorities that have taken part in this tradition for a long time and love to wear their silver jewelry when performing!

Since at Interact China we are very passionate about keeping traditions alive, we really hope that the amazing art of bamboo drifting does not disappear. The women that manage the Zunyi Bamboo Drifting Association and train newcomers are now over 70. If young people lose interest, there is a chance that this beautiful and unique performance art will stop being practiced. Let’s spread the word and keep bamboo drifting going!

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!

Top 5 Ethnic Minorities’ Festivals You Need to Know About

In China, the 55 ethnic minorities comprise approximately 8.5% of the whole population and have rich cultural customs that celebrate their diversity and tradition. Despite being such a small percentage of the Chinese population, they usually live in smaller communities and place much importance in maintaining their cultural heritage and customs alive. This means that they have many fascinating and meaningful celebrations that bring the community together.

One of the main ways of celebrating and promoting tradition is through festivals. This blog talks about some of the most renown festivals that some ethnic minorities celebrate. They inevitably attract many tourists as it is a privilege to experience them in person and are charged with tradition, cultural heritage and customs. However, even reading about these festivals can help you understand and learn a bit about the rich cultures of some of these ethnic minorities.

Ethnic Miao Group’s New Year Festival

First on the list is the most important festival of the year for the ethnic Miao people. This is the celebration of the beginning of a new year and unlike most Western cultures, where New Year’s day is always celebrated on the same day, this festival varies depending on the year and region. The exact dates are only disclosed a few months before so if you are interested in experiencing the festival yourself you may celebrate New Year’s day twice that year as the festival is usually celebrated around November! This festival is remarkable to see, so if you’re up for it, the grandest celebration occurs in the Leishan County in the Guizhou Province where it is recommended for tourists.

The Miao people dedicate this festival to celebrate the harvest of rice and so the star drink in this festival is traditional rice wine made from the harvest. A key element of the festival is to worship the ancestors by offering them fruit and meat in sign of remembrance and respect. One of the most characteristic customs is the traditional dances and music of the Miao people. These dances and parades are usually accompanied by a traditional musical instrument made from bamboo, the Lusheng, and young children dance to this music whilst dressed in their traditional magnificent costumes all covered in grand silver ornamentation. One of the most significant activities of the festival is bullfighting as it is a traditional event for Miao people.

Tibetan Shoton Festival

Another completely different festival is the Shoton festival in Tibet, being most known for celebrating by eating yogurt. Yogurt? Yes, you read that right, Shoton literally means yogurt banquet in Tibetan. During the festival, Tibetan artists perform traditional operas, and important monasteries display large Thangkas which are Buddha paintings. The main events during this festival are opera and exhibitions which give this festival its other two known names: “Tibetan Opera Festival” or “Thangka  Exhibition Festival”. The festival is held annually in the month of August, or late in the sixth month or early in the seventh month of the Tibetan calendar. On the first day you can see the large Thangka display in Drepung and Sera monastery, as well as Opera dance in Norbulingka park.

Tibetan New Year Festival

This festival is the most famous in the Tibetan calendar as it marks the new year and is normally celebrated for 15 days with the first three days having the main celebrations. It consists of ancient ceremonies representing the struggle between good and evil, which are characterized by chanting, and by passing fire torches through the crowds. On New Year’s Eve, people visit the monasteries and donate money to the monks. On New Year’s Day, Tibetans get up early, early and start a praying ceremony in their home where they worship the gods by placing offerings in the front of their household shrines. After that, they have a reunion dinner with traditional cake called Kapse and chang, an alcoholic beverage, and family members exchange gifts.

Water Splashing Festival of the Dai Ethnic people

This festival also celebrates the New Year for the Dai people who live in the DeShong area of Xishuangbana in the Yunnan Province in southwest China. It is called the water-splashing festival since it is characterized by splashing water onto one another as a symbol of holiness and religious purity but also goodwill among people.

The Dai people use the New Year to send off the old or past and invite the new year and future to come. It involves three days of celebrations that include light-hearted religious rituals, the main one being water-splashing. Water splashing is central to all because water, the symbol of holiness, goodness and purity, is the most precious thing to the Dai. Men and women gather in the roads or public parks to take part in a group spree of water with buckets and basins of water. When splashing another this wishes them good luck and a happy new year.

Sisters’ Meal Festival of the Miao ethnic people

The Sisters’ Meal Festival is celebrated by the Miao people especially in Taijing and Jianhe counties. This festival is regarded as the oldest Asian Valentine’s Day since it also celebrates Spring and this is a time where young singles are hopeful to meet their partner. The festival consists of a Sister’s Meal that young women have prepared with a traditional “sister’s rice” they have dyed with natural colors from wildflowers and leaves collected in the mountains. During the festival, the Miao girls dress up in their finest, beautifully elaborate silver celebration headdresses, neck chains and crowns. They then gather by the riverbanks and prepare the special “sister’s rice” which they will offer the young men soon to arrive. The men will sing to those women they are interested in marrying and the women will offer them the “Sister’s Meal” in response to their chants which consists of a drink of rice wine and the sister’s rice which is usually wrapped in a handkerchief decorated with symbols. When the young men arrive they begin to single out the women they hope to marry someday and begin to sing for them. The young women respond to their songs by giving them a drink of rice wine and the sisters’ rice wrapped in handkerchiefs with different symbols.

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!

Cutting Through the Commercialization of Culture

Written by Sean Callahan 

Tourists often spend thousands of dollars to explore China and the culture of its many ethnic groups. However, the more inexperienced travelers sometimes fall prey to the increasing commercialization of culture tourism. Nowadays, smiling ladies dressed in brightly colored costumes standing outside of stores and menus with more expensive prices for foreigners are commonplace. It is part of a trend whereby businesses and even whole towns use traditions to upsell their product and charge foreigners a premium.

What Ithe Commercialization of Culture? 

Often, people from outside a minority culture see it as an opportunity to make money instead of an opportunity to spread the traditions of the people. As a result, visitors get an experience which centers around things like souvenirs and performances that are designed to sell, not to teach. Visitors may leave a place like the Yunnan Ethnic Village with an understanding of minority culture which has been adjusted to make it more ‘touristy’. 

While there are people who benefit from this commercialization, it is usually not the minority groups which do so. They are put in the unfortunate situation of having to choose between their culture and a livelihood which could help them support their families. As a result, they participate in this realm of increasingly financially-based tourism without reaping most of the benefits it produces. 

Why Should You Care About Getting Authentic Cultural Experiences? 

One of the most captivating aspects of cultural items and experiences is their ability to provide the consumer with a window into another person’s life. Authentic culture transports people across large distances and often back in time to experience a unique way of life. When cultural items are produced for economic reasons however, it stops telling the true story of the culture. 

How Can You Get the Most Out of Culture? 

The reality of the matter is most people don’t know how to distinguish between authentic culture and commercialized culture which means they risk spending money with deceitful corporations instead of real people. One way to avoid this problem is to work with a knowledgeable company which can navigate you through the minefield of commodified culture. A company which is well versed in culture can set up meaningful experiences like a homestay with a Tibetan family or ensure the art pieces you buy are made in the same tradition they were hundreds of years ago. 

A Pool of Experts Who Care for Culture, and People too. 

Here at Interact China, we work hand-in-hand with craftspeople from ethnic minority communities to bring their traditional crafts directly to you. Many of our partners come from families with centuries of experience creating cultural artifacts and others are respected masters of their craft. When you purchase from Interact China, you not only support these artisans and their culture but also guarantee that the product you are receiving is not tainted by unnecessary commercialization. We deal in authenticity and tradition so you can be free to connect with the piece and experience its allure without worrying about extraneous concerns. 


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! 

4 Lessons From a Master Silversmith in Yunnan

Written by Sean Callahan

In 2017, I spent a month apprenticing under a master silversmith in a small Bai village in Yunnan, China. I expected to simply learn the techniques used to craft silver jewelry, but my master and teacher, Li Shifu, showed me that in order to truly appreciate a piece of silver, one must understand all that it represents. 

Master silversmiths such as Li Shifu believe the art of silversmithing is more of a mindset than a set of skills. Their work embodies their life philosophy which in turn means each piece has its own unique story. This is not just my story or Li Shifu’s story, but rather the story of centuries of craftsmen and craftswomen in China, a story that Interact China carries around the world.

Lesson #1: The Master can only open the door. The apprentice must learn to walk through it. 

Throughout my apprenticeship, Li Shifu emphasized the idea that he could only give me so much and my success ultimately depended on myself. He told me stories of his own apprenticeship where he and his fellow apprentice “brothers” would be made to do menial chores for months before the master would allow them to touch silver. This arduous process was not meant to take advantage of them or to punish them, but rather to select for the most important traits a silversmith can have: work ethic and dedication. Learning to be a silversmith, like most other things in life, takes hard work and repetition. Whether you want to become a silversmith or a poet, your teacher can only give you the tools to succeed. You must strive to use those tools to better yourself; only then will you truly improve. 

Lesson #2: In our rush to finish, we often lose sight of our goal. 

The first piece Li Shifu taught me how to make was a shiny silver bracelet. He instructed me to first hammer a rectangular piece of silver into a round one suitable for shaping into a bracelet. I proceeded with this task with great speed, hoping to quickly move on to the next part. After about 90 minutes, I proudly showed him my perfectly round silver rod. However, he frowned and handed it back to me saying, “it is too long.” As I spent the next few hours restarting from scratch, Li Shifu cautioned me that in my rush to shape my rod I had neglected to consider the end goal of my work. Similarly, in life, we need to consider the context which surrounds our actions and make decisions with the larger picture in mind. 

Lesson #3: Small details matter just as much as large steps. 

Undoubtedly the loudest and most noticeable step in silversmithing is the initial shaping of the item where a blowtorch and hammer are used to pound the silver into the correct shape. Silversmiths put enormous amounts of time and effort into this process as it creates the base for their product. Engraving, on the other hand, is a process which involves a chisel and tiny movements. The engraving of minuscule lines and figures may seem unimportant compared to the shaping process, but Li Shifu assured me that was not the case. A bracelet can be deemed unworthy due to one erroneous engraved dot just as it can be due to an entirely misshapen piece of silver. In our lives, we must keep in mind that seemingly trivial details can often prove to be just as meaningful as large events.

Lesson #4: Handmade goods appeal to the human spirit.  

The rise of silver factories has flooded the market with cheap mass-produced silver jewelry. Li Shifu, however, says that people still seek out handmade items like those that he makes for both practical and sentimental reasons. Not only is handmade silver stronger and more flexible, but Li Shifu believes each piece shares a connection with its maker which makes it unique. When someone opts to buy a handmade piece instead of a factory-produced one, each time they look at the piece they can admire the skill and dedication of the craftsman. One can’t put a price tag on this human element of handmade silver and that is the reason why it remains popular today. 

Oftentimes, when consumers look at the incredible pieces created by ethnic craftsmen, they recognize the beauty and allure but they miss out on the culture, philosophy, and process behind them. So next time you admire an art piece, whether it be silver jewelry or an embroidered bag, think of Li Shifu and other artisans and what their work means to them. This knowledge will allow you to appreciate and connect with handmade art more fully.  


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! 

A Journey Through Chinese Ethnic Minorities’ Festivals

By Emma Marler

The beauty of Chinese ethnic minorities is the variety of their culture. Each of the 56 Chinese ethnic minorities have their own unique traditions and customs. As a visitor, one of the best ways to experience each group’s culture is attending one of their festivals, there are so many of them! Let’s have a look at a few so you can get an idea of how colourful and fun these celebrations are!

Water Splashing Festival

The Dai ethnic people reside in Xishuangbanna, an autonomous province located in Yunnan. According to their own calendar, they celebrate New Year in mid-April for three days. Because the weather is already very warm at that time of year, it is tradition to accompany religious rituals with light-hearted and fun activities.

The first two days of celebration are on the Lancang river. People enjoy watching boat race competitions during the day and make floating lanterns fly in the evening, an old Chinese tradition that sends bad luck away.

On the third day, water splashing actually happens! The Dai put on their best clothes and listen to monks chanting Buddhist scriptures at their local temple. Afterward, the most important ritual of the festival takes place, ‘Bathing the Buddha’, since in Dai culture water symbolises religious purification. After the statue has been soaked with water, everyone else starts splashing each other.             

Splashing each other with water is not just good fun, but it is also a way to send good luck and prosperity for the next year.

Sisters’ Meal Festival

The Sisters’ Meal Festival is celebrated by the Miao Hmong ethnic minority in Guizhou province, China. This festival takes place in March and lasts for 3 days. It is considered the oldest Valentine’s day in China. It originated from an old matchmaking legend, according to which a god advised  girls to dye rice and offer it to young men in order to find their marriage partners. Girls wear their best embroidered dresses and silver ornaments for the occasion, since the light of the polished material wards off evil spirits.

To this day women still go to the mountains to collect wild flowers in order to dye rice. They wrap the  glutinous rice in handkerchiefs or baskets.

When a man approaches them, the girls choose which packet of rice to gift in order to communicate their interest or lack of. If there is a pair of chopsticks or red petal with the rice, it means that the girl wants to marry him. If there is pepper or garlic, it means that the girl is not interested.

Torch Festival

The Torch festival is of prime importance for the Yi people. The origin of this festival is not clear. Some scholars believe it was one of the two annual New Year celebrations according to their ten month calendar. Another school of thought traces its origin back to the ancient worship of the Yi towards fire because of its power to repel insects and protect crops.

During the three days of celebrations, if you walk around a Yi village you will see that in front of every house there is a lit up torch, illuminating the streets and creating a magical atmosphere. Young men and women also walk around the fields and place the torches at the four corners of the crops. In the main square a huge bonfire is lit and everyone contributes to igniting it.

Many other activities are also carried out in the daytime. Girls parade in their traditional outfits and yellow umbrellas, whereas men engage in competitions of horse racing, bullfighting, and wrestling.

All these beautiful festivals strengthen the cultural traits of the ethnic minorities and maintains their centenary traditions alive. They are the perfect chance to showcase their identity to the rest of the world!


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!

A Day in the Life of Miao People

By Emma Marler

Miao people are one the 56 ethnic groups in China. Their vibrant culture attracts visitors from all over the world. They are well renowned for their silver crafting and embroidery skills. Let’s now try to imagine to spend a day in the life of the Miao community. It’s going to be an exciting journey!

The majority of Miao people lives in Guizhou province in Southern China. There is an old saying that describes their homeland this way: “No three days are clear, no three feet of land are level, and no one has three ounces of silver”. Guizhou is therefore known for its mountainous sceneries, long rainy seasons and for not being very prosperous economically.

Their houses are built on steep hillsides and use stilts for support. Their tradition to plant bamboo and trees around their homes makes the wooden buildings blend in beautifully with the natural surroundings. But it’s at night that magic happens. When it gets dark and each family turns the lights on, the mountains seem to be lit up.

The cultivation of rice has been their main means of subsistence, especially before tourism started to spring up. As many Chinese liquors, Miao’s mijiu (米酒) is also rice-based. Hospitality is a big part of their culture. Guest are welcomed with this rice wine to toast while dancing and singing takes place to greet visitors. Miao are great cooks and they love sour and spicy food. There is even an ancient saying that states that “without eating a sour dish for three days, people will stagger with weak legs”! Fish soup is Miao’s staple dish. Fresh carps from the rice fields are cooked in a boiling soup with chili pepper, garlic and tomatoes.

If you go and visit, you might be lucky enough to participate in one of their Long Table banquets! During special occasions like New Year or weddings, every household brings a home cooked dish and shares it with the rest of the extended family and their guests.

Apart from agriculture, Miao people have cultivated several artistic skills along the years. Men are exceptional at silver work. At festivals or special occasions girl accessorize their dresses with head to toe silver jewelry, it can weigh up to 10 kilograms! Silver is believed to symbolize light and it can scare away evil spirits. Silver is therefore a recurring element in the most important milestones of their life. When a new born baby takes his first bath, parents put a piece of silver into the water to wish for a happy future. Families start collecting silver jewelry for their daughter’s wedding since the day they are born.

The traditional costume is a perfect representation of Miao culture and history because it combines both silver work and embroidery. Women are extremely talented artists and produce the most stunning embroidery pieces. The techniques they use are very elaborate and to finish a set of traditional clothes can take up to two years. To recognize a Miao embroidery pattern you have to look out for natural and geometric shapes in beautiful bold colours.

Their embroidery techniques are passed on for generations and girls start learning how to weave, embroider and cross-stitch at the age of 6. When a girl finishes her first embroidered dress all on her own it shows that she is ready to get married.

Miao people have also mastered the art of batik. According to a Miao traditional song, a young girl dreamt of some bees landing on her blue skirt one night and when she woke up she found some wax on it. After washing it a few times she realised that those spots were flowered shaped and had adorned her simple skirt.

Batik and embroidery are an essential way for Miao people to express themselves because they don’t have their own written language. Those patterns are a visual language to transmit their culture, religion and history to the rest of the world.

With the passing of time and the rise of globalisation, rich culture and traditions like those of the Miao are even more unique but are also at risk of dying out. Our mission is to preserve their heritage and pet people know how much these ethnic minorities have to offer. We hope you enjoyed this journey into the wonders of the Miao world!


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!

People of Yunnan: A Little Great World of Worlds

Written By Maria Giglio

Once upon a time in Southwest China, three brothers were born. As they grew up, it was clear that the boys were so different, that they also spoke different languages: Bai, Tibetan and Naxi.  Each brother then decided to settle in a different area between Tibet and Yunnan. This fascinating ancient legend about the birth of Southwestern Chinese culture is only a taster of the immense diversity to characterize the region.

Did you know?

Probably you already know that China is known for its high population density. Not everyone knows, however, that unlike many other huge Countries like the United States or Canada, Chinese territory is also very rich in cultural diversity. The whole land counts as many as 56 recognized minorities in China. Interestingly, almost half of them are concentrated within the Yunnan Province in Southwest China. Curious to know who they are? There are at least 25 communities inhabiting the Yunnan territory: Achang, Bai, Bulang, Buyi, Dai, De’ang, Dulong, Hani, Hui, Jingpo, Jinuo, Lahu, Lisu, Miao, Mongolian, Naxi, Nu, Pumi, Sani, Shui, Tibetan, Wa, Yao, Yi and Zhuang.

The map below shows the territory of Yunnan, divided by ethnic groups.

Meet our partners and friends

Despite the alarming level of poverty spread across the territory, Yunnan people are renowned by locals and international tourists for their extreme hospitality, courtesy, natural cheerful spirit and vitality. Each different group has its own rich cultural heritage and proudly showcases it through colorful traditional attires, arts and crafts passed down across generations.

We at Interact China celebrate diversity and worship oriental beauty. We exist to support the people of Yunnan to move from poverty to prosperity cooperating with local artists to promote their products worldwide! Keep reading to get to know where our partners come from!

Dai

Dai or (Thai) people live in the Southern area of the Yunnan. As the name suggests, they are strictly related to their Thai (and Laos) neighbors.

Dai communities count as many as 1,000,000 people. This means that there is a lot of infra-group diversity, including language and custom, although all sub-groups share a common script which is completely different from national Chinese.

Dai culture is full of vitality and fun: one of the most important celebrations is the “Water Splashing Festival” recurring during the Dai New Year. What is the main activity of the ongoing celebrations? Well, you can see yourself..

Traditional attire for women include tight-sleeved short dresses to exalt the feminine figure. Especially in Xishuangbanna region, there is a preponderance of bright colors such as light green, pink and light blue. Here are two examples of our Dai products:

Hani

Hani people occupy a large portion of Southeast Yunnan. They have a long lasting tradition of artistic skills, especially textile art which they use as a way to express individual identity and personality.

Hani people especially give out their creativity through stitching and weaving. The recurring abstracted geometries suggest that a language hides through textiles. Below there is a taster of our collection of Hani bags: can you guess what these patterns tell?

Unlike many groups, Hani people love black and dark blue: they extract pigments from local Indigo plant. This doesn’t mean that they have a mournful spirit: usually dark backgrounds come with lots of colurful decorations.

Lahu

The Lahu people inhabit the Southern areas of the province. Still today, Lahu enjoy a very natural lifestyle. Animistic religion is still very diffused across the different sub-groups of this population.

Fun fact: legend says that the founding father of Lahu culture was a man who had been fed and raised by dogs since his birth.

As a result of this Lahu version of Romulus and Remus Roman legend, people of this tribe worship dogs as their ancestral protectors and tribute them in their arts and crafts. Usually the dog is represented with a triangle, like in these Lahu bags from our collection. Aren’t they a piece of art?

Lisu

Lisu people live in the North-western border of Yunnan close to Burma.  

These lively people too live in very natural environments and practice animistic religion. As a result, their art features a distinctively primitive character. A joy to the eyes of color-lovers. Lisu love to show off their creativity wearing bold vibrant outfits.

A truly social community, Lisu use clothing and accessories to attract one another and get together. For example, young men usually craft extravagant bags like the one below for courting. The more the tassels and pompoms, the merrier! This one makes a long way to the top…

Miao

Miao Hmong people constitute the largest minority group in China, amounting to as many as 9,426,007 people only in the Yunnan province. An originally nomadic people, large communities of Miao also inhabit neighbor regions of Vietnam, Laos and Thailand.

With over 5,000 years of history, Miao people can boast of an incredible infra-group diversity, although their artistic skills as featured in their impressive apparel can be considered a common feature. Miao people are worldly renowned for their textiles and rich, heavy jewelry which they proudly wear as expression of identity and history.

The making of incredibly elaborate silver jewelry such as the above horn headdresses not only reveals a high level of creativity but also an exceptional crafting technique. I dare you to find anything similar elsewhere! We are proud to offer you a huge variety of products from these incredible artists and lovely people. I didn’t know where to start, so visit our website for a full experience! 🙂

Miao silver art originates in the originally nomadic nature of the tribe. Silver jewelry was crafted from from melted coins to be carried around more easily when travelling. It was also used as dowry for marriage and more generally to express the family social status. Today, the Chinese government supports the preservation of Miao traditional silversmithing (accredited as National Cultural Heritage in 2006) yearly supplying special stocks of silver to Miao communities.

Tibetan

As the name suggest, Chinese Tibetan people occupy the north-western border of Yunnan, close to Tibet. Settled in the cold and windy mountains of the Tibetan plateau, these people live in harsh and isolated conditions, but are nonetheless cheerful.

Considerably influenced by Buddhist tradition, Tibetan people enjoy a modest lifestyle in deep connection with nature and spirituality.

The spiritual dimension of Tibetan culture reflects in their arts and crafts, entrenched with deep symbolic meaning. For example, many Tibetan jewels are made with Dzi, a local patterned black and white gemstone which is said to influence energy flux. Our Tibetan jewels keep it classic with turquoise and coral, acknowledged for their healing purposes:

Yi

Finally, the Yi people inhabit the remote mountains of northern Yunnan, even though the largest representation lives in Sichuan Province.

A peaceful people living in contact with nature, Yi are known for their incredible embroidery skills, which are full part of their cultural heritage and daily attire.

Yi people like to express their wishes for a better and wealthier life through their colorful attire. Despite the hardship of life living conditions, Yi textiles such as this lovely bag below are a full statement of joy. Can’t you feel some good vibes?

If you enjoyed this article, help us grow! We strive to make the lives of these communities better by creating opportunities for their social and economic development. Shop our articles and visit us soon!

About Interact China 

圖案

“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. 

圖案

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! 

Ikat, the ancient art of cloud weaving

Written by Maria

Feeling blue today? If you know what Ikat is, you may agree that it is not necessarily a bad thing. Coming from the Malay-Indonesian word mengikat (to tie), Ikat is an ancient textile art particularly diffused in Southeast Asia, particularly in China, Indonesia and Thailand.

The technique is complex and time-consuming, mainly consisting in dyeing the cotton yarns before weaving.

Named after such technique, the Ikat fabric can come in a variety of colours and patterns, although one of the most popular variations is the blue-patterned one. Ikat weavers use pigments of indigo, the local plant which famously gives the characteristic colour to denim, to obtain the particularly dense, sky-like blue. This is probably why in Persia Ikat technique is known as abr brandi, which literally means tying the clouds.

Origins

Although its origins are highly debated, Ikat is probably one of the most ancient and unique textile techniques of Asia. The earliest historical record was found in China and dates back to the 6th Century, though there is track that the technique has been used in India at least since the 7th century and developed in other Asian Countries such as Thailand and Indonesia.

Surprisingly, Ikat has also widely flourished in Latin American countries such as Peru and Guatemala since ancient times, where it developed independently of the Eastern world.

Ikat was brought to Europe by Dutch and Spanish explorers from Asia and Latin America during Colonialism, started in the 7th Century.

The traditional patterns of Ikat used to be entrenched of spiritual meaning. In particular, Ikat used to be a symbol of wealth. Until recent times, in Southeast Asia only aristocrats were allowed to wear Ikat fabric. The rule, also sanctioned with death punishment, slowly disappeared because of the colonialist pressures to trade and diffuse the product abroad, which led to its largest diffusion in the 20th Century.

Process

Just like batik and tie-dye, Ikat is obtained with a resist-dyeing method, mainly by controlling the colour spread so that it does not reach all the fabric. The purpose is to create the patterns out of the contrast between coloured and uncoloured areas.

The difference between Ikat and other famous resist-dyeing techniques like Batik or Tie-dye, is that dyeing is applied before and not after weaving. First, the design is marked onto the yarns. Then, the unmarked areas are then tied with rubber, wax or other materials, to avoid that the colour penetrates them.

The yarns are then dyed with the use of a straw. Finally, the yarns are untied and woven in the loom. Dyeing is fundamental to the creation of the patterns. A variation of Ikat is double Ikat, where both the warp and the weft are dyed.

If you want to know more about Ikat, watch the following video to see how ikat is made! https://youtu.be/3OAnnvPEOl8

If you have fallen in love with Ikat, please have a look on our new sleek line of blue scarves on InteractChina.com. Enjoy!

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!

Crying In Their Shoes: The Cruel Myth Of Foot-binding

Written by Maria Giglio

Have you ever seen a foot fitting in the palm of your hand that is not that of a child?

Female foot-binding is a practice as old as a millennium that used to be widespread among Chinese women until earlier 21st Century and was officially banned in 1912 after the establishment of the Republic of China.   

You may wonder why the practice had been around for so long, and the answer is not that easy.  

In China, a lotus foot, as small as 3 inches, was considered a symbol of feminine beauty, sensuality and elegance.  

Fitting the lotus

As a foot this small was rare to find among adult women, foot-binding had to start as soon as possible in order to prevent its natural growth, usually around the age of 5, and would take about 2 years to complete. The girl’s feet would first be treated with hot water and oil, then all toes, except the big toes, would be broken and bound to the soles to form a triangular shape; finally, the feet were bent double and wrapped in a silk strip that would have been changed every two days to avoid infections.  

As a foot this small was rare to find among adult women, foot-binding had to start as soon as possible in order to prevent its natural growth, usually around the age of 5, and took about 2 years to complete. The girl’s feet would first be treated with hot water and oil, then all toes, except the big toes, would be broken and bound to the soles to form a triangular shape; finally, the feet would be bent double and wrapped in a silk strip that would have been changed every two days to avoid infections.  

After the treatment, girls had to walk for long periods of time, to facilitate the breaking of their arches so that heal and shoe would crush together to fit in smaller shoes.  

Origins of Foot-binding 

There are many versions of the origin of foot-binding. What is certain is that this practice was particularly popular during Song dynasty. However, a common belief relates the invention of foot-binding to the period of Tang dynasty, around the 10th Century, and thus before the Song. Emperor Yu Li asked his concubine Yao Niang to dance on her toes on a six-foot tall golden lotus. Yao Niang binded her feet in white silk so to perform the dance which was so enchanting that every woman in Court had wanted to imitate her ever since. 

Historically, the first archeologic evidence about foot-binding in Ancient China dates to 1243, during the Song period, in the tomb of a 17-year-old girl named Huang Sheng.  

Meaning and spread of foot-binding 

Foot-binding was never imposed to women by any law. On the contrary, it was banned and condemned at times. Then why did it last for so long in first place? As already mentioned, a lotus foot was an aesthetic requirement to marry Chinese women. Soon it became a status symbol. Women with bound feet were typically regarded as particularly attractive and seductive. This is also encouraged by the fact that lotus-feet women walk slowly and gracefully to avoid aggravating the pain and uneasiness caused by the binding. 

Among many aspects, one important reason why foot-binding had been widespread until later years is its relation to Han culture. After their invasion of China in 1636 and the establishment of Qing dynasty, the Manchus imposed to the conquered their costumes and traditions and among made several attempts to ban foot-binding. Consequently, Han people, who also represent the majority of Chinese nowadays, kept practicing foot-binding as a way of resistance to the ‘barbaric’ oppressors who, on their side, stopped trying to ban it. 

During the Qing Dynasty and up until the 19th Century, bounded feet increasingly became a mark of beauty and turned into an advantage for finding a wealthy husband.

After the arise of many protests within the Chinese community, in 1912 the Republic of China officially banned foot-binding, but lack of enforcement and resistance didn’t stop it from being diffused until 1990s, when the practice had disappeared with the last generation of lotus feet women. By the end of the 20st Century all shoe factories in China had closed due to the lack of demand. The last factory, Zhiqiang in Harbin, was shut in 1999 with all the unsold stock being donated to the Heilongjiang Museum of Ethnography.       

Pleasure and Pain: Lotus Shoes 

Because of the pain caused by the broken bones and the awkward position of the feet, women could barely walk and so spent a lot of time home hand-sewing and embroidering to embellish their lotus shoes. 

But what did this footwear look like? As the name suggests, the lotus shoes recalled the shape of a lotus blossom with their cone shape. They were usually made of cotton and silk and enriched with fine embroidered or hand-sewn patterns, representing animals, flowers or ‘shou’, the symbol of longevity.  

The style and colour of lotus shoes varied according to the occasion. For example, while brides typically wore red shoes, the colour yellow was usually reserved to aristocracy, Imperial members, and in general wealthier classes. 

A painful expression of Chinese pride 

Nowadays, foot-binding is quickly stigmatised as an unnecessary and cruel practice aimed at perfect female bodies, compared to tight corsets. But the truth is much more complex than that, and the story of foot-binding tells us that there was a time when cultural identity would have been defended at any cost. 

Are you curious to see lotus shoes live? Check out the following collections around the globe: 


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. 

Shape

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! 

Dongba Writing: A Primitive Pictogram

Written by Juliette Qi

 

Dongba Culture and Naxi Ethnicity

In China, the Dongba culture, associated with Lijiang City in the Yunnan Province and Muli District in the Sichuan Province, refers to the traditional culture of the Naxi ethnic group. The Naxi live mostly in northern Yunnan, in Lijiang, Weixi, Zhongdian, Ninglang and Yongsheng prefectures.

1
The Naxi in Traditional Costume

 

The Dongba culture is based on the polytheistic religion of the same name and also has own writing, dances, paintings and music. “Dongba” is the name given to shamans, types of wizards, who transmit this culture from generation to generation. The Dongba priest is an important figure in the community because he preaches the harmony between men and nature, which is a fundamental value among the Naxi people, just like the cult of the ancestors.

The Dongba religion, more than a thousand years old, has been influenced by Tibetan Lamaism over the centuries, but also by Taoism and Chinese Buddhism. In this religion, the elements of nature are considered as gods who rule the world.

 

2
The polytheist Dongba religion

 

From an artistic perspective, Dongba culture is indeed very rich because it is transmitted and expressed by music and painting. Many colorful scrolls depicting religious scenes or deities can be found in Lijiang.

The city of Lijiang is a research center which studies the Dongba culture and keeps all objects related to this culture. Many Chinese and foreign researchers come to this place to study this fascinating culture. In religious rituals, the Naxis dance in their traditional costumes reminiscent of Tibetan ones. They also sing sacred texts, written in Dongba.

 

Dongba Writing: The Legendary Characters

3
Wood Engraving of Dongba Writing

 

The dongba or tomba script (in romanized Naxi: ‘na-‘khi ²ggŏ-¹baw) is one of the scriptures used to write in the Naxi language, which is spoken by the Naxi people. It is more than 1000 years old and is probably the only predominantly pictographic writing system used today; however, some characters are used as syllabic characters.

There are currently 2000 religious works written in the Dongba language in which more than 2000 pictograms are used. These books are of crucial importance to understand the Dongba culture because they inform us about religion and customs but also about philosophy, history, literature, astronomy, medicine, fauna and flora as well as the paintings and music of this culture.

In the Lijiang prefecture in particular, the signs are usually written in dongba, han Chinese and sometimes in English. There are also dongba – hanzi / english dictionaries in the bookstores of the city.

4
Dongba calligraphy

 

Dongba calligraphy is still practiced by using bamboo stencils, as well as prints, both of which usually use a high-quality handmade paper specifically made for Dongba.

The traditional production of dongba paper uses the bark of two shrubs, wikstroemia delavayi and wikstroemia lichiangensis, growing at an altitude of 2,000m above sea-level, as in the canton of Sanbei. The barks are cut into thin strips, soaked in a tray, and then dried on boards in the sun. There are also many murals of this writing, in bas-relief or painting.

 

 

 

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 atbloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!