Ethnic and Ethical: 4 Reasons to Love Sustainable Fashion in China

Written By Maria Giglio

I remember the last time I walked around Regent’s Street area in London. It was last winter on a Saturday. Ok, it may not have been the last time, but surely it was the most memorable. I passed by a fur shop. A bunch of protestors stood in front of the building yelling at anyone getting out of the fancy door. Several bystanders just didn’t take them seriously or worse, they held their children tight, covering their eyes and ears, as they were assisting to a terrorist attack. It was a moment of dramedy.

Greta Thunberg on her first climate strike in front of the Swedish Parliament in Stockholm

Ok, we get it. In the era of veganism, environmentalism, climate change strikes, grumpy looks from Greta Thunberg to Donald Trump, not everyone is ready to give up their comfort food just yet, and for what? The promise of a better future?  Ain’t no hero, ain’t no saint, right? Wrong! Maybe this is a time desperately in need of a Marvel character, only this time is the whole world at stake. And by world, I mean trees, animals, insects, fish, your delicious bonsai, your Retriever, but also you and I, our children, the children of theirs. Only problem? The environmental alert is set up to 2030. In a world without fictional saviours, only humanity can save itself from self-destruction. Good news: we are still in time to make this happen. How? Coming to compromise on our old habits: energy and food waste, water efficiency, responsible consumption. In a nutshell, sustainability. And compared to the payoff, this is really a small effort. The growing concern about sustainability issues finally has led many industries to look at sustainability as a crucial bullet point in their performance checklist and it is increasingly becoming a key determinant in their revenues.

A relatively young capitalist economic superpower, a fast-forward technological hub, Chinese market offers a fertile place for sustainable businesses to grow.  As an important branch of mass consumption, Fashion is one of the most prosperous industries, supported and fostered by a workforce of young western-educated home-comers redressing their homeland reputation with sustainable initiatives.

What is sustainable fashion?

The very first important question to ask is, what we mean by sustainable fashion? The answer is, one that is environmental-friendly, but also people-friendly. Let’s see the reasons why supporting it in details

1.      It’s good for the planet.

As pointed out above, sustainability is intuitively relates to environmental issues. In what ways fashion can be sustainable under this aspect? First of all, generally ethical brands offer handmade products, usually unique pieces. Taking mass-production off the table implies to avoid frenetic production which exhausts resources rapidly, but also to avoid industrial processing which implies high level of energy emission, chemical material usage, water consumption, toxic waste.

Moreover, sustainable clothing is made of natural, organic and recycled materials. This contributes to reduce the environmental footprint not only because “what comes from nature returns to nature” but also because it reduces waste production. In fact, generally organic fabric ensures a better quality of clothing, which usually lasts longer than synthetic fibres. This discourages you from disposing of a shirt right after few months of usage.

2.      It’s good for yourself.

I’ve just pointed out that a very important feature of sustainable fashion is that is made of organic fabric. This is also good for your health. As a customer, you don’t want to risk to wake up covered in rash because of the wrong pyjama. Usually organic fabrics have a very low level of toxicity if not free of carcinogens.

Moreover, let’s not forget that handmade production grants you top quality and awesome unique pieces, at fairly reasonable prices. Don’t you want to feel special and unique too?

3.      It’s good for other people.

Environment and health are the most obvious reasons why going sustainable. But beyond the mainstream subject target, we should think of sustainability more as a holistic concept, that refers to all the dimensions of our living together. It’s a call to share the global limited space and resources equally, responsibly and kindly, paying the same consideration for others’ wellbeing as the consideration we expect them to pay for us. If you look at the official plan for sustainability set up by the UN, the Sustainable Development Goals  (in short 2030 SDGs) amount to 17 global goals in total including social goals in the global political agenda.

To mention some, gender equality, education, peace, justice, decent work, innovation. So, beyond the eco-friendly purpose, sustainable fashion also aims at achieving social equality. How? By taking care of the wellbeing women and men behind each product. For example, the use of organic materials reduces the risk of contact and inhaling toxic substances, thus safeguarding the worker’s health. Moreover, sustainable brands endorse a policy of fairness. Retailers in this slice of market are usually committed to promote the ethnic products of the most marginalised communities in the world to support their independent development. How? By granting fair pay and treating them as equal partners and avoiding engaging in abusive practices. Last but not least, by promoting their cultural heritage, often at risk of disappearance due to the mass-globalisation.

4.      Ultimately, it’s good for your soul.

Yes, it is. Don’t you feel already empowered by knowing that so much good can come from one simple gesture? You are one bag away from changing a life, for real.

Chinese Brands Committed to Ethical Fashion

And if you’re curious to know who is striving for social change in Chinese fashion district, here are some examples:

Nuomi – A high-end fashion line, Nuomi empowers women with its handmade line, all using natural fibres such as bamboo, cotton, silk, and an admirable working ethics, creating employment opportunities in disadvantaged contexts.

An amazing Nuomi dress 100% Natural

Fake Natoo – is a true blessing for the environment, using exclusively recycled and donated materials. The fashion brand is also committed to create working opportunities for migrant women creatives by giving 10% of its annual revenue to their cooperatives.

A piece of Natoo’s Recycling Bank collection

NEEMIC – this high end fashion brand uses 100% organic materials, from fabric to cleansing products such as biodegradable soaps to avoid chemical waste.

Neemic past SS collection

Interact China: Do good, look good, feel good!

If you are looking for something which is good for the planet, the environment, the others, and yourself, but also culturally tripping, please visit us on our website! We raise social awareness by promoting the products of different ethnic artisans of China. Our hope is to disclose to the world the immense cultural heritage of Chinese and Southeast Asian communities, their diversity.

Miao generations of lady crafters

Our mission is to raise the human lives of these populations by creating the opportunity to sell their products on a global market.

Our co-founders Aileen and Norman on a trip to a Miao Village, Yunnan 2005

Each item is a little treasure telling the story of this people’s long journey. Do you want to hear it? The way we see it: do good, look good, feel good! The way you can make it happen? By a simple click. To know more, come visit us on www.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 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! 

Silk Crossroads: Chinese Brocade in The World

Written by Maria Giglio

Ever wondered where all that Shakespearian costume vibes that Brocade shoes evoke come from? Well that’s an interesting journey.

Back in Renaissance, Italian folks went crazy about silk brocade. As a matter of fact, the English word brocade derives right from the Italian word broccato (interestingly sharing roots with the word broccoli!) to refer to the embossed (broccus means sprout in latin) effect produced on the surface by the weaving technique. However, brocade carries far more remote origins than Italian renaissance, dating back to the Chinese warring states period (around the 5th Century B.C), a time when the silk-secret had not been unravelled yet.

The character Jin (锦), used to compose the Chinese name for Brocade Zhī jǐnduàn (织锦缎) literally means golden dragonfly and refers to the noble texture of the fabric which originally was refined with gold and silver filigree which nowadays are replaced by copper or alluminium powder. Silk brocade features a unique colourful pattern, usually displaying flowers and nature, the distinctiveness of which is given by an irresistible tri-dimensional effect.

But first, the technical stuff

Brocade is not an independent but an auxiliary weaving technique used to ornate the main fabric with a carving effect. It is usually realised on a draw loom, where the basic design is created on multiple wefts (continuous brocade) while extra inlay effect is created with a supplementary weft (non-continuous brocade).

Chinese Brocade styles: the ones to watch

Chinese silk brocade has a long, established tradition. Mentions of silk brocade can be found in the Book of Songs, the oldest known collection of classic Chinese poetry (11th-7th Century B.C.). During the 1980s, pieces of brocade were retrieved at the Chu tombs of Warring States Period in Hubei Province.  Brocade varies from region to region, and many minorities have their own peculiar weaving style. Amongst the all, Yun, Shu and Song brocade are the most ancient and renowned types. To give an idea, Yun brocade developed over 1580 years ago during the Yuan Dynasty and is the most prestigious because of the use of gold and silver foil in weaving.

Shu brocade, coming from Sichuan and flourished between Han and Tang dynasties (3rd Century BC to 10th Century A.D.) is recognised worldwide as a textile gem, being characterised by a strong predominance of red.

Finally, Song brocade originates from Suzhou, in Jiangsu Province, the homeland of silk and reached its peak of popularity during the Song Dynasty because of its soft texture and the bright colourful design.

Today, Chinese silk brocade is acclaimed worldwide as a cultural relic. In 2006, Yun, Song and Shu brocade were enlisted in the national intangible heritage.

An intriguing history of weft and theft 

Although silk textiles have been extremely popular in the Western world since Ancient Greece and Roman Empire, where they were being exported via the Silk Road, the Chinese Empire managed to keep the secret of silk production for over 30 centuries, which secured a China’s monopoly on the textile’s trade.

It was under Byzantine Empire that the secret of sericulture was finally revealed to the world. According to the legend, in 550 A.D. two monks sent by Emperor Justinian to discover how silk was made, stole mulberry cocoon, silkworm and eggs and brought them back to Constantinople.

Chinese influence on Italian fashion history

After the disclosure of sericulture to the world, the commercial relations between West and East slowly declined, and by the end of the 14th century, brocade production was not an Oriental prerogative anymore. In Italy, the cultural fervour characterised by a pursuit of beauty and perfection during Renaissance, favoured the evolution of silk weaving techniques and the elevation of textile artisanry to a form of art, contributing to the establishment of Italy as a fashion sanctuary.

Long-lasting cultural interweaving

Sometimes we think of fusion as a concept that belongs to our modern times. Every culture claims its own, unique, virgin identity. And in part that is certainly true. But the fascinating history of humanity tells us something slightly different. Without interaction, there is no inspiration. Without inspiration, there is no progress. What if the silkworm had never slithered out the Silk road?

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!

Peonies & Co.: The Enchanting Power of the Chinese Flower

Written by Maria Giglio

Attention boyfriends of the world, I’m about to tell you the secret to a woman’s heart: if you love her, bring her flowers. That’s right, that’s it. Every woman in the world has a thing with flowers… unless she’s allergic, of course. In any case, no doubt she will fall in your arms. But why? Well, for starters it’s the simplest gesture to show appreciation to your other half. Plus, because there is a mystic, millennial symbolic connection between flowers and women.

Many cultures worship flowers as a universal image of feminine grace, beauty and prosperity. For example, in Christian tradition the Virgin Mary is often associated with the lily, symbol of purity or referred to as “Mystical Rose” without thorn to represent her sinless nature. In Buddhist culture, the lotus is worshipped as a symbol of perfection and fertility; resembling the woman’s uterus with its rounded shape, this flower is known for its incredible beauty and the capacity to stay clean despite flourishing in swamps and wet habitats. The energising power of flowers and spring are immortalised in Botticelli’s eternal masterpiece La Primavera.

In Botticelli’s La Primavera, Flora (3rd figure on the right) personifies the rebirth of Spring wearing a floral dress

Naturally, this charming love story between flowers and women reaches one of its highest peeks in Chinese culture, where it has been widely celebrated over millennia by a prosperous artistic tradition.

Chinese blossoms

Since ancient times, the Chinese have cultivated a true passion for flowers, by decorating their public and private spaces with beautiful gardens. Interestingly, the Chinese word for flower is “花” (huā) and visually represents the magic of a flower in bloom. In fact, the character is a compound, growing from the radical for grass “艹” under which the magic joyful metamorphosis of a plant when producing flowers is represented by a cheerful character.

On the twelfth day of the second month of each lunar year, as soon as nature awakens, a Spring Festival is held in honour of百花深 (Bǎihuā shēn), the White Goddess of Flowers, to celebrate fertility. As in other cultures, Chinese people too associate flowers with women and beauty very frequently, although the symbology related to flowers is much richer and varied, as evidenced by traditional and tribal art and poetry production.

Pink peonies

King of Flowers

Among the many flowers linked to Chinese culture, peony is certainly the most treasured by Chinese people. The equivalent of the Westerners’ beloved rose, the peony is also known as the king of flowers (花王, Huāwáng), existing in two main varieties, the tree and herbaceous peony. The original Chinese word for the herbaceous peony was 芍药 (sháo yào) to refer to the medical properties of the flower. Shao (芍) means in fact a spoonful (勺) of plant (艹), whereas yao (药) means medicine. After a while, both the tree and herbaceous varieties were known as 牡丹 (mudan). This word consists of two characters. The character 牡 (mu) is composed of the radicals for ox (牛) and and earth (土). The character 丹 (dan) means either pill, probably referring to the healing properties ascribed to the peony in Traditional Chinese Medicine, or the typical colour red, as a typical variety of the flower.

An ancient passion

Up until the Qing Dynasty (1636-1912 A.D.), the peony was renowned as the official national flower of China, as per appointment by Empress Dowager Cixi in 1903. As a matter of fact, Chinese passion for this flower sprang around 1,400 years ago. During the Tang Dynasty (around 600 A.D.) peonies started to be employed to decorate the imperial gardens and soon began to spread everywhere else in China. An imperial emblem of opulence and beauty, peonies were featured in paintings and textiles, as well as used in poetical allegories to celebrate the prosperity of the nation. Among the most valuable, the red ones represent wealth, while white peonies symbolize the beauty and cheerfulness of Chinese young girl.

Cultivating national pride

After the Cultural Revolution, the Peony is not recognised the official status of national flower anymore, though its fame and glorious reputation is unvaried in the heart of the Chinese people as it embodies the national hope for an ever-growing prosperity. Over the last twenty years people already expressed their willing twice by casting a ballot (one in 1994 and one 2003) for a renovated official acknowledgment by the Government of the peony as a national emblem. The proposal is still pending.

Although Chinese peonies can be found almost everywhere in the country, Luoyang (Henan Province, Eastern China) is certainly the best place to admire their beautiful blossoms. Renowned as the city of peonies, Luoyang offers a spectacular Peony garden showcasing over 500 varieties in full bloom. The garden is famous for hosting a peony high over 3 metres and as old as 1,600 years.

A view of Luoyang Peony Garden

Flowers in Chinese traditional fashion: take your pick!

The passion for flowers is vividly featured in the traditional apparel of Chinese people.

Back in the 60s Scott McKenzie used to sing “if you’re going to San Francisco, be sure to wear flowers in your hair”. If you insteadwant to wear flowers everywhere, check out our exclusive florid collection of handmade Qipaos!

Amongst the 56 minorities in China, Miao people hold pomegranate blossoms 石榴花 (Shíliú huā) particularly at heart. A national cultural heritage as enlisted by UNESCO, Miao embroidery features pomegranate flowers to symbolise the wish for prosperity. If you want a taste of this true textile rarity, check out these handmade bags that our Miao artisan partners have created exclusively for our costumers!

If you smell a nice deal… Discover these and more products on 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 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! 

Medicating by Meditating: healing spirit and body with TCM

Written by Maria

If you live in a concrete jungle like London, New York or Hong Kong, you are certainly very familiar with stress, anxiety, and pollution that negatively impact the quality of your life. Your tight schedule makes you feel like everyday is the same as the day before. All this planning in advance causes an amount of stress that it gets harder and harder to bear. You feel like you’re about to crush and then it is Friday again. A pub crawl on Friday, some laundry on Saturday, and a lazy Sunday. Of course it will happen that some weekends are more exciting than others, but some are just extra hours of work. If you are lucky you will spend them on a Ryanair cheap flight towards an unknown small town where they barely understand you and you barely understand them. And it is Monday again. How to get out from this ordinary nightmare?

As I see it, we are all left with 2 options. We move to a desert island and leave it all behind. But what about your friends, your family, and all your fancy clothes? Also, human are after all social animals, we really need people to get by. And some pets too. And a sofa. Fortunately, there is another option. It only takes 5 to 20 minutes a day and, once again, it comes from the Far, far East. Just Meditate. Mind I said “Meditate”, not “Think”. Think involves our brain to function in a certain way: to formulate hypothesis, to plan, to take decisions, to supress our emotions. It involves stress. We have just agreed that we want to get away from that. So, what is meditation?

Origins

Meditation is a practice which involves full concentration, awareness of oneself and one’s surrounding, and the aim is to reach stillness of the mind and a deep status of mind-body relaxation to prepare it. In a way, meditation is the opposite of thinking, because we want to observe our thoughts, physical and emotional senses, as they were pictures in our minds.

Rooted in Hinduist tradition and dating back as far as 4,000 years ago, meditation arrived in China with the diffusion of Buddhism, although meditative practices are also very common in the Taoist tradition. 

In Chinese Traditional Medicine, Meditation has developed as a crucial as Acupuncture and a balanced diet, to favours the correct flow of Qi within and without body and mind.

Be Still: Meditation and Movement

In terms of techniques, stillness can mean many things. Stillness is about the mind, and it doesn’t necessarily imply that you only meditate in static positions, like laying down on the floor or sitting in a lotus pose with your legs crossed.

Yoga is a very popular choice. In Chinese tradition, Tai Chi and Qigong are the most common meditative movement practices. Apt for all ages and bodies, they engage in a sequence of slow, mindful bodily movements, to enhance balance, bodily control and breath. Such practices are great for your health, particularly for your muscular tone and your back.

To some meditation sceptics…

Now I can hear some of you saying ‘Do you seriously want to make me believe that if I lay down and tell myself not to think I will not think anymore? And isn’t it thinking about not thinking a thought anyway?’

See, that is the problem. A good meditator is one that focuses only on his breath. He does not impose himself what to think, he is not judgmental of losing his focus from time to time. When it happens, it only accepts it and comes back to his breath. It takes some time practice and time to appreciate the positive results of meditation. Some of us just call it patience. I prefer to call it commitment.

About patience…

‘What if I fall asleep while I am meditating?’, or ‘How can I not think not to fall, if I am standing upside down in a very odd Yoga position?’ are other kind of concerns. Well, if you fall asleep, you reached your purpose: certainly you have gotten relaxed, although you should maybe work on your awareness, trying to counting your breath to keep your mind active, though even and stable. Same when your practicing Tai Chi or Yoga. Just focus on your breath and keep tracking of your movement through inhalation and exhalation: it will naturally relaxing your muscles, thus encouraging a better withstanding of the pose; also, it will keep you distracted from feeling challenged, unbalanced, by the position, pain, stretch etc.

Meditation as Medication in Chinese and Worldwide Culture

Meditation practices spread throughout all the East because of their link to the Buddhist tradition, and were used as a form of healing alternative to religious rituals and conventional medicaments. Still today, especially in ethnic populations there is a diffuse belief that bodily illness is only a physical manifestation of spiritual illness, caused by a bad thought, evil demons, etc.

But apart from the mystic side of meditation, its benefits are undeniable. As I mentioned already, meditation is an engaging practice, which trains our minds to control emotions and impulses in a healthy way, without ignoring or supressing them. It helps keeping an even attitude through stressful times, or to certain emotionally-charging events in our lives. And it is commonly known that a calmer temper is good to keep our blood pressure steady, our heart rate at ease, and our anxiety and sleepless nights only a bad memory.

Not convinced yet? Based on Eastern practice of Meditation, the ‘Iceman’ Wim Hof (among his Guinness World Record gestures: a barefoot half-marathon on ice and snow, a swimming several times half-naked under the ice for more than 110 minutes) developed a method to defeat our human frailty and enhance our resilience through the power of our minds and breath.

Personally, I am a big fan of Wim and can’t wait to join one of his crazy expeditions. But many of you may disagree. Believe it or not, scientists and doctors still pop their eyes in front of his extraordinary, super-manly health conditions. It’s not about magic, it’s just about commitment. Meditation is a way of life. To keep a steady mind clears the view from dusty confusion, facilitates decision, increases our self-esteem. It is not a surprise that there is a corporate trend to integrate yoga and similar practices in their employee schemes.

So what are you waiting for? Close your eyes and just breathe.

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!

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!

The Amazing Journey Of Kites

Written by Maria Giglio

When you fly a kite you stare at it floating in the air and ask yourself where it will go. But have you ever wondered where does a kite come from? Surprise, surprise… China, naturally! The Chinese kite is called Fēngzhēng (風箏), which literally means ‘air (fēng) zither (zhēng)’. I’ll get to that later but first, a little bit of history that you’ll love. Ready? Then fasten your seatbelt and let’s fly away!

The rise (and fall) of a wooden bird

Would you believe me if I told you that the first kite prototype was invented by a philosopher? You better do! According to some ancient texts, more than 2000 years ago, Mozi (470-391 B.C.), the founder of Mohist philosophy designed a bird-shaped tool made of wood, the mu yuan (‘wooden bird’). According to the story, it took Mozi three years to complete the mu yuan and… only one day to wreck it after a short flight! No wonder that as soon as paper was invented, kites started to be made with it and to be named zhi yuan (‘paper bird’).

War Games

Fun fact: originally the kite hasn’t always been a toy, but employed as a war tool. Actually, the military use of kites was still widespread even in modern times.

The earliest written evidence of flying war kites in fact dates to general Han Xin, who served under the reign of Han Emperor Gao Zu (202-195 BC). According to the record, general Han Xin used a kite to estimate the distance from an enemy town, so to build a tunnel of the same length to breach the city.

Another case of military use of flying kites is that of Emperor Wu of Liang (464-549 BC). In 549, dissident general Hou Jing surrounded the city of Tai, where the Emperor and his family resided. Since there was no possibility to launch the alarm outside the wall without risking being breached, the Emperor sent out a kite as a carrier pigeon to request extra troops. Unfortunately, while flying the kite was spotted by the enemies who shot it down believing it was a demon. After that episode, the city was taken.

Finally, kites had also been used as bombs for a while. During Song Dynasty (960-1279 A.D.) they were in fact filled with gunpowder and firecrackers – which, by the way, were both also invented by Ancient Chinese – to fly over the enemy campsites and explode. The kites, which were usually crow-shaped, were also known as God Fire Crows and said to be able to carry up to 500 grams of incendiary powder.

The Kite’s redemption song

Let me guess. You are confused. How on earth – or in sky? – such an infernal object became an innocent toy for children, praised and raised all around the world? How did it turn from a symbol of war to one of peace and freedom?

Well, the kites as we know them started to arise during Tang dynasty (around 600 A.D.). Since then, they have been diffused among people of all age and social class in China.

Originally, a kite was equipped with a small bamboo bow and a silk string, so to make it sound like an harp while flying in the air, due to the vibration of the string. This finally explains why the Chinese word for kite is Fēngzhēng (風箏), air zither. The zither is in fact a particular kind of string instrument – from Ancient Greek kithara (κιθάρα) to which also guitar owes its name.

A kite of magic

Over time, the kite has gained a mystical reputation in China. In the past, people lifted musical kites to avert evil spirits with their vibrato. Letting a kite go was instead a sign of bad luck, as it meant to send away protection.

Kites were also considered to have divinatory powers. In his memoirs, Marco Polo reported that before sailing, the crew built a huge kite and tied it to a man – usually a drunk person or a fool – in high wind: only if the kite rose vertically they would sail.

By the 7th century, kites had conquered the Japanese sky, where they were brought by Buddhist monks and kept their mystical fame. In Japanese culture the use of kites was in fact associated with good luck and especially with rich crops.  

From East to West: from kite to airplanes

Already in 1500, flying kites had become very popular around all Asia. From China, to Japan and India, , they have become the favourite pastime for all generations and social classes. The time had come to let kites known by the rest of the world.


The diffusion of kites in Europe is due to explorers such as Marco Polo. However, it wasn’t love at first kite. At first, European only regarded them as exotic souvenirs and started to take them seriously only in 18th century. Brightest inventors of the Western world started to use their knowledge of the kite for scientific purposes.

In 1752, Benjamin Franklin, with the assistance of his son, flew a kite towards a thunder cloud to collect electricity through its conductive wire, thus discovering that lightning and electricity were produced by the same phenomenon. The Wrights brothers used kites for their flight experiments. Slowly all this took to the invention of the airplane at the beginning of the 20th Century.


Today, we ask ourselves if a man can fly: we have built kites, and airplanes, but the answer is still no. But maybe, if it wasn’t for Mozi and his wooden bird, we wouldn’t dare even asking.


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!

The Ethnic Tribe Who Bears Their Ancestors’ Hair

written by Camille Boukortt

There are 55 recognised minorities in China and among those, the Miao people are some of the largest ethnic minorities with a population over 10 million people. However among this group exist many subgroups, including the Suojia, or Longhorn Miao people.

I used not to know much about Chinese ethnic minorities, but when I started learning about them, the Longhorn Miao people left me a lasting impression because of their gorgeous and intricate headdresses. The latter are made with strings of wool and linen interlaced with the woman’s ancestors’ hair, and are passed down from generation to generation, making them an invaluable and precious legacy of one of the oldest tribes in mainland China.

Longhorn Miao Child wearing traditional Miao clothing

Centuries-Old Traditions

Miao people are known in Asia as the Hmong, meaning “free men”. They are ethnically different and linguistically distinct from the Chinese and the other ethnic groups in China and Southeast Asia.

The Miao appear in Chinese history as far as in 2500 B.C., being described as a rebellious tribe banished from China’s central plains around that time.

Miao people have their own language and although the younger generations also speak Mandarin, older tribe members do not understand it and are unable to communicate in that language. Even among Miao people, there are 5 different languages ! Each one of them is associated with a certain sub-groups. They are spoken languages as they had no official script until the mid-20th century, when they started using Chinese characters.

Instead, they wrote about their history and chronicles through their craft, on their clothes and every day items passed down from generation to generation.

Hair With Meaning

It is important to note Longhorn Miao women do not bear the heavy headdress on a daily basis, instead wearing the long hair and wool piece only during festivals or other special occasions.

Longhorn Miao mother helping her daughter put on her headdress

The tradition of wearing one’s ancestors’ hair comes from wanting to honour them beyond death, and wanting to preserve their image for posterity. The horn shape, however, has multiple supposed origins and meanings. One supposition would be that the tribe, living in the mountains, started wearing them to scare off dangerous animals to ensure their safety. Another theory says Miao people wore crossbows and bows behind their head as a send off ceremony after the King Miao died in the war, vowing revenge for their king. Later, these people would replace the weapons with wooden long horns as decoration.

Some say the moon-shaped horns represent Miao’s people worship of the moon, as they often sing to it at night.

Whatever the reason may be, the peculiar and gorgeous headdress is sure to attract curious looks from anyone unfamiliar with their customs !

two Longhorn Miao children

Preserving Their Culture

However, a lot of younger Miao girls and women keep their headdresses away, both for practical reasons due to the long time required to put them on, as well as the will to preserve their fragile family heritage. Nonetheless, globalization and modernisation even in the countryside has started a constant battle for the preservation of minorities’ culture, as those minorities do not have any incentive to learn about them and perpetuate them, and rather move to bigger cities or choose to work factory jobs that pay them more than selling their own produce.

Longhorn Miao mother and daughter

Supporting ethnic minorities is key when it comes to preserving their cultural heritage !

I hope this article has enlightened you about the beautiful culture of Longhorn Miao people, as well as made you want to learn more about them and support their cultural traditions and unique heritage.

 

 

 

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!


Sculptures of Chinese Seals

Written by Juliette Qi

 

Until modern times ,the seal has been a form of signature recognized in China as the hallmark of its owner. The seal is still widely used in the artistic world but also in Chinese administration. Despite its small size, the seal plays an extremely important role in the life of Chinese people.

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Invented in the 2nd century BC, the seal became a personal mark and gradually an artform. The seal was originally made of metal, for example bronze, silver or sometimes even gold. Over the centuries some seals have also been produced with hard stone and ivory. Their value was also, to a certain extent, a reflection of the quality and talent of the engraver.

 

A Manual Artform

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Traditionally, seals are engraved by hand. With the sculptural techniques, the seals perfectly combine the beauty of Chinese characters with the drawing of lines. A seal reproduces the same image of the same characters or figures whenever it is used, so it can be considered as the precursor of printing ,which is one of the Four Great Inventions together with Compass, Gunpowder and Papermaking.

In the past, the materials which were used to make the seal were generally bronze and jade, both of which are very hard. They must be slowly and carefully melted or abraded by an expert craftsman during a complicated process. Until the end of the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), the great painter Wang Mian 王冕 engraved his own seals with pyrophyllite, which is a relatively tender material. This skilled calligrapher not only brought out the beauty of his calligraphy, but also appreciated the special effect achieved by his engraving, which made this method of engraving seals very popular among the scholars of that time.

Later, a new character is added to the seal in the form of a poem on the side of the seal inspired by the artist’s feelings towards his work, or simply their name, hometown and date of engraving. Promoted by scholars over centuries, the art of seal engraving has become one of the three pillars of the fine arts, as well as calligraphy and traditional Chinese painting.

 

Engraving Process and the Application of Seal

The essential part of carving the seals is the engraving of the surface to be stamped. The high- degreed engraving includes the excellence of three aspects: the composition, the technique with the knife and the calligraphic technique. First, one must choose the calligraphic style and decide the disposition of the characters, which is called the “composition” of a seal. In addition, engraving characters with skillful moves is called “knife technique”. The fusion of these two elements results in an entirely new form of expression called “calligraphic technique”.

 

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In order to seek more refinement and beauty for the design of the seal, engravers, in addition to etching the surface to stamp, sometimes also create an exquisite and elaborate sculpture on the top of the seal or carve a decoration on the sides in bas relief. They can also carve an original and amazing drawing by taking advantage of the different textures and colors of the stone in order to give more artistic value to the seal. The combination of two- or three-dimensional techniques on a seal adds more depth and a particular artistic sophistication to it.

 

 

 

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!