Miao Baby Customs: Childbirth and Child-rearing

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Written by John Murphy

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

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

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

 

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About Interact China


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

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

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Kungfu Clothing, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!

If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

 

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Yamada Mumon Roshi – Finding the Self

By Joshua Joshua@InteractChina.com

Yamada Mumon during his time was a monk of Mahayana Buddhism. In a collection of his words, Zen and meditation are explained in an easily comprehensible way that resonates with the broader masses of people. “Yamada Mumon Roshi’s Words” gives us insights into the role that Zazen (Engl.: sitting Zen meditation) plays in everyday life. It also emphasizes the hope that Zazen will not only be practiced for the benefit of oneself but also would come to benefit everyone. Lastly, his words even give detailed instructions on how to practice Zazen.

This article focuses on the meaning of Zazen and how Zen can help us to learn more about ourselves.

Yamada Mumon

Zazen and the Role It Plays

Yamada wants to clarify that Zazen first and foremost describes a certain mentality, and actually, body posture has less significance. Yamada explains the mentality of Zazen humorously, telling an anecdote from the Second World War. It is said that there was a line of people and more continued queuing up, as everyone expected to find something interesting with so many people gathered there. It turns out, at the end of the line there was a stranger’s funeral waiting for them. This anecdote is intended to convey the need for investigating our own self. We should avoid following a way just because others before ourselves took it. How to find and walk your own way, that is the question Zazen starts with.

Answering this question is not about conceptualizing or taking a scientific approach. On the contrary, it is about surrendering instinct, habit, and intellectual judgment. The “real self […] sees, listens, laughs and cries”: emotions come without thinking. Meditation can give rise to an inner clarity in which the real self can be perceived.

Mentality and Physical Posture

As mentioned, mentality takes precedence over physical aspects of meditation. Provided we have the right mental practice, we can, in fact, do Zen-Meditation regardless of whether we’re sitting, lying, standing or walking. That said, a beginner’s preference should be to do sitting meditation. Out of the four postures sitting is the calmest, yielding an inner calm as well.

Yamada Mumon instructs us to find both physical and mental calmness. Just like clouds in water will only go away when one stops stirring, the real self can only become visible through practicing tranquility.

As for how to enter the right mentality, we are instructed to cut all ties with the world surrounding us. We must separate ourselves from our sensual impressions. The Chinese monk Hui-Neng said, “not to move from seeing self-nature inwardly is called Zen.” By detaching oneself from the outer world, one can find tranquility.

Lastly, Yamada remarks that one should not be tempted to believe a dark surrounding could ease the difficulty of practice. Rather, a dark environment can cause illusions, daydreams, and might also lead you to fall asleep unintendedly. So, we should keep our eyes slightly open and stay in a well-lit place.

How to Find the Self?

Yamada’s instructions on meditation go into deep detail describing the correct lotus posture and how to ease the breath and heartbeat, among other things. However, the core principle remains tranquility yields transcendence. Yamada’s advice to beginners simply is: pick a bright and calm environment and sit down in the lotus posture. Do this as often and committedly as possible and the inner fog clouding our view from our inner self will slowly clear. This practice might even become an inspiration for others, teaching them to stop getting in lines that we don’t really belong in.

Source: http://onedropzen.org/uploads/Yamada_Mumon_Roshi.pdf


About Interact China

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

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters, and tailors, along with 12 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speaks 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 the 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 Common Heritage Between the 5 Major Tai Chi Styles

Written by Joshua Joshua@InteractChina.com

Chen

The originator of Tai Chi (Pinyin Taijiquan), according to legend, is Zhang Sanfeng of the Wudang mountains. When witnessing the fight between a snake and a crane, he is said to have found the inspiration to create what has come to be called Tai Chi. Historically, however, the origin of Tai Chi can only be traced back to the Chen-Family about 300 years ago. The Chen Style was founded about 300 years ago by Cheng Wangting in Chenjiagou. The other four major styles of Tai Chi are Yang, Wu/Hao, Wu, and Sun. They are all related and often influenced by each other.

Zhang Sanfeng witnesses the fight between a snake and a crane

Yang

For a long time, Tai Chi was rarely taught outside the Chen family. Yang Luchan, the founder of Yang Style Tai Chi, was one of the early exceptions. He learned from Chen Changxing, of the 6th generation in his family, the Chen Style. Yang achieved great skills and came to develop his own style. Whereas Chen Style combines fast and slow movements and incorporates jumping and stomping techniques to a greater extent, Yang Luchan’s style was slower, more even and flowing.

Wu/Hao

The Wu/Hao Style, also called the first Wu Style, has been shaped by both Yang as well as Chen Style. The founder Wu Yuxiang learned from Yang Banhou (the 2nd generation Yang) and Yang Luchan, and then he learned from Chen Qingping (the 7th generation Chen). It is said, Yang Luchan introduced Wu Yuxiang to the Chen family. The movements of the Wu/Hao style may be characterized as slow, flowing, and small, with a narrow stance and tall body posture.

Wu

The second Wu Style, which is simply called Wu Style, was jointly founded by Wu Quanyou and his son Wu Jianquan. Wu Quanyou learned from Yang Banhou. Wu Jianquan, in turn, learned from his own father. A striking feature of this style is the sideward-leaning body posture. While raising the upper body is considered crucial in Tai Chi, the Wu Style internalizes this principle. In practice, this means they are still raising upwards, even though their body is leaning to the side.

Sun

The Sun Style connects Wu/Hao Style Tai Chi, Xingyiquan, and Baguazhang. Tai Chi, Xingyiquan, and Baguazhang are known to be the three most influential internal martial arts. The founder of Sun Style is Sun Lutang. He first learned Xingyiquan and Baguazhang and then moved on to study Wu/Hao Style Tai Chi under Hao Weijian (3rd generation of Wu/Hao). The Sun Style is similar to the Wu/Hao Style, employing a narrower stance and a taller body posture. It prioritizes gentleness and steadiness, consciously avoiding any surplus muscular tension.


About Interact China

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

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters, and tailors, along with 12 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speaks 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 the 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!

Sparring in Tai Chi – Tuishou and Sanshou

By Joshua Joshua@InteractChina.com

Is Tai Chi really a martial art? Does what you learn really enable you to defend yourself? The short answer is yes, Tai Chi is a martial art. Progress in Tai Chi brings you crucial skills for self-defense.

While Yang Chengfu more than a hundred years ago was teaching this martial art to selected soldiers of the imperial palace in Beijing, Tai Chi nowadays has been opened to the masses. As Tai Chi was introduced to a society that has little need for martial skills, it’s immensely positive influence on physical and mental health has certainly become a compelling factor leading to its popularization. But health is not the only reason to be fascinated with Tai Chi.

One Turns into Two

When practicing Tai Chi, fighting is often the last thing we draw into consideration. However, one who truly wants to explore the deeper sides of Tai Chi will need to develop an understanding of its martial meaning and capacities, for which one will need a partner to practice with. Training alone and with a partner are two complementary units like Yin and Yang.

Establishing a strong basis is the first thing to do: the body needs to get used to ideas like opening the joints and the Tai Chi specific term relaxation. Having completed this initial stage, you are ready to start learning Tuishou.

Tuishou

Tuishou means pushing hands and upon learning it, it might very well be the first time a student is challenged to accommodate not just him or herself, but also a partner, to find a harmonious and meaningful exchange. As Tuishou is only one method of practice, with its own set of rules, one of the prerequisites is to not punch or kick. Its physical aspect is limited to pushing and yielding. For Tuishou, you first learn the upper body and then the lower body. For training the arms, each partner raises one arm, using the wrist as a contact point. The arms start circling: first simple circles, then more complicated circles. Each partner will add in his or her second hand and start adding more different contact points. Contact at first is only the wrist-palm area and then later moves towards the elbows, shoulders and even the entire upper body. First without any footwork, then in a fixed stance moving the weight forward and backward. Only after becoming comfortable with the preceding stages may one move on to moving steps. The practice of circles is eventually extended into the practice of applications: such as pushing, rolling back, warding off, etc.

Preceding in this order, with relentless practice you will slowly develop your skills. Alongside Tuishou you will also start learning Fajin-exercises, which cover striking, pushing, and kicking techniques. When the body and mind can transition smoothly to meet all situations, without being hindered by the necessity to think, then once again the challenge can become more complicated. This is when you start learning Sanshou, which means free hands, a term for free fighting and sparring.

Sanshou

If the student is not advanced enough to learn Sanshou, then he or she will not be able to profit much from the practice. He will become tense, his Qi moving upwards and his body becoming unrooted. He will try to use muscular force to overcome his partner and defend himself. This wrong use of force needs to be avoided, as within the Tai Chi philosophy it is seen as something weak, that can easily be abused by one’s opponent.

At its pinnacle, Sanshou may include every little thing one has learned throughout his/her entire practice. The amount of discipline required to study Tai Chi to such completion is immense and that is exactly why in the hands of most people, Tai Chi will be a health program, rather than a martial art. However, if practiced as a martial art, there are no limitations. One can grow beyond his or her own style, and even grow to be able to meet, study, and spar with masters from other martial arts like Shaolin or Karate. What one intends to do with such a skill, in the end, is up to the individual.

Check out this video to see Sanshou choreography from a competition in 1980:


About Interact China

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

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters, and tailors, along with 12 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speaks 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 the 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 6 Films to Get to Know Chinese Culture (II)

Written by Yuqing Yang

I hope the previous blog has already given you some insight into Chinese culture and history, so here is the other half!

 

~ Modern family relations (Family Drama) ~

推手 (Tui Shou; Pushing Hands)

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It is one and first of Lee Ang’s “Father Knows Best” trilogy together with the other two movies – The Wedding Banquet (1993) and Eat Drink Man Woman (1994). The story is about an old Chinese Taiji teacher emigrating from Beijing to live with his son, American daughter-in-law, and grandson in New York. The title of the film is a pun. Pushing hands is part of Taiji routine, for which two persons have to learn to exercise and balance their power. It also perfectly parallels with the family relations between father and son, old and young, and East and West. Since the story is limited to a family, every detail and cultural subtlety has been taken care of. The content judging from personal, philosophical, and cultural perspectives is extremely rich.

 

 

~ Justice in a new era (Western/Comedy) ~

让子弹飞(Rang Zi Dan Fei; Let The Bullets Fly)

It’s an action comedy written and directed by Jiang Wen. Set in 1920s in Sichuan, a battle of courage and wits between bandits and corrupted governors takes place.  The cast includes all well-known names of the Asian film industry like Chow Yun-fat, Ge You and Carina Lau. It is an ambitious project taken in China not only because of its unfriendly implication towards government also because of its western movie genre. Even till now, it is still one of its kind.

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~ Love in big cities ~

森林 (Chong Qing Sen Lin; Chungking Express)

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It is a romantic movie written and directed by the Hokng Kong director Wong Kar-wai. The film stars Takeshi Kaneshiro, Faye Wong, Tony Leung and Valerie Chow, exclusively pillars of Hong Kong entertainment industry. It consists of two separate stories about police officers’ breakups and encounters with drug smuggler and bar worker in Hong Kong. It is interesting that the title has nothing to do with the city Chongqing, merely referring to the concrete jungle main characters get stuck in. This movie perfectly captures fleeting moments in big and modern cities. Many of the actor’s lines have become catchphrases in the new generation and are still widely used and cited.

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I hope you would like some of them, and please let me know by commenting below if you want to get more recommendations or any thoughts you have!

 

 

 


About Interact China

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

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 12 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


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

 

 

 

Top 6 Films to Get to Know Chinese Culture (I)

Written by Yuqing Yang

When talking about Chinese films, first ones came to your mind might be Kung Fu and Hong Kong crime movies. Surely, they can’t be all what the Chinese style is about. From mythical ancient China to modern industrialized China, filmmakers have tried to capture these moments in all possible forms. Below is a list of films that will help you understand hopefully more about the Chinese culture and its aesthetics.

~ Ancient legends and mythologies (Animated Film) ~

海棠 (Da Yu Hai Tang; Big Fish and Begonia) – 2017

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To any fan of Ghibli films, the beautiful scenes in Big Fish and Begonia might bear a resemblance to those from Hayao Miyazaki. The movie itself, however, draws inspirations Zhuang Zi’s philosophy, the ancient texts such as Classic of Mountains and Seas (Shanhaijing) and In Search of the Supernatural (Soushenji). Set in a mystical undersea world, the magic-powered residents have to complete a coming-of-age ritual by transforming into a fish and traveling around the human world. The main character, Chun, is no exception. But she has involved herself in such an accident that she has to shoulder a responsibility to redeem a human soul. This movie is China’s best-animated film in recent years.

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One scene with the traditional architecture tulou (giant earthen round houses typical in Fujian Province)

 

 

~ Thousand years of kingship and traditions (Historical Movies) ~

末代皇帝(Mo Dai Huang Di; The Last Emperor) – 1987

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Don’t let the historical category put you off. The Last Emperor is a biopic directed by Bernardo Bertolucci, and it focuses on the life of China’s last emperor, Puyi Henry since he was three. It faithfully captures the end of China’s kingship that lasts thousands of years. Living under the rule of the emperor slowly has become an inseparable part of Chinese consciousness. In this movie, the mysterious life of Son of Heaven in an apocalyptic time has revealed itself gradually in front of the audience. This movie is about a transitional moment, a bygone age, and a kind of mentality. It has won nine Oscars in 1988, including Best Director and Best Picture.

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The bright yellow that symbolizes the royal blood.

 

 

~ Striving towards modernity (tragedy)~ 

活着 (Huo Zhe; To Live) – 1994

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The film was directed by Zhang Yimou and staged by Gong Li and Ge You. it is based on the novel by the same title; the story traces the life of a married couple throughout chaotic years from the 1940s to 70s under Mao Zedong’s rule. The main character, Xu Fugui (Ge You), is born in a rich family, but he gambles the family property away. Fugui accidentally conscripts himself into the army and participates in Chinese Civil War, but upon his return, Fugui becomes handicapped. Soon it is already Cultural Revolution, Fugui’s son, Youqing, exhausts from hard labor and dies in an accident. Misfortunes as such keep taking place all the way into Fugui’s last years. Throughout the movie, it is hard to distinguish personal and political tragedies, but the ending is unspeakably powerful and fulfilling.

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(Full movie with English subtitles)

 

 

If you haven’t found anything special yet, make sure to check Part II!

 

 

 


About Interact China

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

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 12 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


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

 

 

 

Top 3 Chinese Myths and Legendary Figures

Written by Francesca Zhu

The Myth of Sun WuKong

Sun WuKong, also known as the Monkey King, was born on the Mountains of Flowers and Fruits. He was powerful and with a rebellious trait, and one day, he went to the Heavens and caused havoc. The Gods were so angry with him that they tried to burn him but instead the fire made him even more powerful. The Gods then asked help to Buddha. Buddha punished the fearless Monkey King by suppressing him under the Mountain of Five Elements where he remained captive for five hundred years.

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After centuries, a monk named Tan Sen was on his journey to the West with an important duty, to bring Buddha’s sutras to the East. One day, he passed by the Mountain of Five Elements. He freed Sun WuKong on the pact that the Monkey King had to be his disciple and had to help him collect the sutras. As such, the Journey to the West proceeded, with other new discpiples; Zhu BaJie, Sha WuJing and Bai Long Ma; who would later join one by one protecting Tang Sen from the dangerous demons of the West.

The adventures of Tang Sen and his four disciples are a recurrent theme in the Chinese folk culture. They appear in a multitude of cinematographic productions, from Chinese cartoons, movies, TV series to American screens.

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Sun WuKong is probably the most popular character in the story; known for his power, braveness, repentance for his past and the willingness to become a better person under Tan Sen’s guidance. He is also featured in one of the most popular Japanese Anime that everyone knows about… that’s right, he is the undefeatable Goku in Dragon Ball. The synopsis of the anime is different from the Chinese myth but the character of Goku is indeed based on the story of Sun WuKong.

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The Myth of the Cowherd and Weaver Girl

The story of the Cowherd and the Weaver Girl is a romantic one, on which the Chinese Valentine’s Day is based. It is said that the Weaver Girl was one of the seven angels that came from the Heaven to visit the Earth. During the journey, she met the Cowherd, a poor kind-hearted man, and the two fell in love with each other. The Weaver Girl stayed with the Cowherd on the Earth, they got married and had a boy and a girl. One day, the Mother Queen of Heaven came to know about the Weaver Girl and strongly disapproved the love between the two. She brought the Weaver Girl back to Heaven while the Cowherd chased after her. When he was almost reaching his wife, the Mother Queen used her magic hairpin to create a river separating the lovers. The Cowherd and the Weaver Girl cried so much for losing each other that the Mother Queen was moved. She still didn’t allow the lovers to stay together but she allowed them to meet once a year on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar, when a flock of magpies will form a bridge crossing the river letting the Cowherd, the Weaver Girl and the children to reunite.

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This day is also called Qixi in the Chinese culture, the equivalent of Valentine’s Day, when young people appreciate the night sky with their loved ones. In fact, the Weaver Girl represents the star Altair, the Cowherd Vega and the river separating the two the Milky Way.

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The Myth of Chang E and Hou Yi

Once upon time, there were ten suns. It was so hot that all plants were burnt and people suffered drought. Hou Yi was an excellent archer, he took his arch and bow and shoot down nine suns only leaving one to provide light to people. Having saved the Earth, he was admired as a hero and many went to him to learn archery. To praise his bravery, the Gods gave him the elixir of immortality. Although Hou Yi wanted to become immortal, he was happily married with Chang E and didn’t want to be immortal without her, as the elixir was only enough for one person. So he just kept the elixir home.

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One day, a greedy scholar of Hou Yi decided to steal the elixir. He broke into the house where only Chang E was there. He forced her to give him the elixir and Chang E, not knowing how to fight him, drank the elixir herself. She immediately became an immortal and flew to the Moon. When Hou Yi was back, he was heartbroken. He laid out his wife’s favourite fruits and cakes in the yard as offerings to her. His neighbours did the same and soon it became an annual tradition. Today, we still pass on this tradition on Mid-Autumn Festival, when we paint and light on lanterns and make and eat mooncakes, remembering the tragic story of the Chang E and Hou Yi.

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Do you know any more Chinese Myths? If so, don’t hesitate to share them with us!

 

 

 


About Interact China

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

Aileen & Norman co-founded Interact China in 2004 with specialization in fine Oriental Aesthetic products handmade by ethnic minorities & Han Chinese. Having direct partnerships with artisans, designers, craft masters and tailors, along with 12 years of solid experience in e-commerce via InteractChina.com, we are well positioned to bridge talented artisans in the East with the rest of the world, and directly bring you finely selected products that are of good quality and aesthetic taste.

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Tailor Shop, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


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

 

Silk Padded Applique Embroidery (II) – Seemingly Easy Three-Dimensional Embroidery

Written by Gioia Zhang

Translated by Yuqing Yang

 

Silk padded applique embroidery is a decorative pattern made of fabrics. It is produced through a series of steps including embossing, weaving, embroidering, stitching, appliqueing, and silk-drawing. The choice of raw materials used in silk applique likewise shows great ingenuity and creativity. The main material for silk embroidery is called phoenix-tail yarn, since the color of this yarn is a gradient resembling the tail of a phoenix. The yarn is only produced in Beijing, and its beauty endures through time.

wKhQo1WjnW6EEjieAAAAAJpTZhw664.jpgSilk padded applique embroidery made of phoenix-tail yarn

If you are interested in making this handicraft, maybe today you will be greatly inspired by this lesson. Let’s find out how this 3D effect can be achieved. The steps of making silk padded applique embroidery include:

1466128088879.jpgSample drawing (left),                         Reflected sample drawing (right)

  1. Tracing

Put one piece of tracing paper above the sample drawing and one piece of carbon paper with a paperboard below the sample drawing. Trace the sample drawing with a pencil. The drawing will be transferred onto the paperboard.

  1. Drawing the boundaries

Specify the areas that will be covered by another layer of fabrics with shadows. These marked areas keep their raw edges for further attachment to a new layer.

  1. Marking the colors

Mark parts of the pattern with color-coding for different colored phoenix-tail yarns.

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  1. Cutting the paperboard

Cut the paperboard along the black marking line. Make sure to leave the edges smooth.

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  1. Pasting the cotton

Spread glue evenly on paperboard and glue cotton to the paperboard. Shape the cotton along the edge of the paperboards.

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  1. Cutting yarn

Cut phoenix-tail yarn to corresponding color codes along the shape of paperboard. Leave a margin of 3 to 5 millimeters.

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  1. Forming the shape

Spread glue on the edge of the phoenix-tail yarn and hide the margin at the back of the paperboards.

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  1. Organizing the pattern

Place the petals in order and spread glue on the seam. Press the seam flat to set the fabrics.

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  1. Mounting

Glue the piece to a suitable baseboard. Frame the work.

It seems not so difficult after all, right? However, to make silk padded applique embroidery requires not only a pair of dexterous hands, but it also demands one to treat every detail and the position of layered fabrics with extreme care. Only in this way will the whole art piece be lively and vivid.

20170111134746ve6mxjsy3yzuowta.jpg!s700副本.jpgSilk padded applique embroidery: Characters from Eight Immortals

2013062312384655438505.jpgSilk padded applique embroidery of flowers

About Interact China


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

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

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Kungfu Clothing, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!

If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Silk Padded Applique Embroidery(I) – The Once-Lost Hidden Gem of the Imperial Palace

Written by Gioia Zhang

Translated by Yuqing Yang

 

Speaking of Chinese embroidery, what comes to your mind other than the famous four major styles? Do you know any other styles? Today I want to introduce a special kind of Chinese embroidery – silk padded applique embroidery. It is made of little bits of cloth of different colors, and together they form a brush and ink painting. The finished work is a colorful and well-arranged collage. It is a combination of hard textures like woodcuts and gentle textures like fabrics. This silk embroidery has a long history; since it was initially produced only within the imperial palace, it was also called imperial embroidery of cloth bits or imperial padded applique (宫廷补绣gongtingbuxiu in Chinese). A more popular name among the people would be: patchwork drawing or patchwork flowers or simply jacquard.

3f308a04-857a-4d4c-a43d-f20a081769e4.jpegImperial Embroidery “Flowerpot Shoes”

月季花蓝.jpgSilk Embroidery: Chinese Roses in A Basket

More than one thousand years ago in the Northern and Southern Dynasties (420-589), a rudimentary form of these techniques already existed in the Jingchu area (nowadays known as Hubei). For festive occasions, the local custom was to cut colorful silks into shapes of flowers and birds and put them up on screens or use them as headwear.

财神(布堆画).jpgPatchwork drawing: God of Wealth

This tradition was fully developed in the Tang dynasty (618–907) and transformed into a unique skill called silk sticker (贴绢 tiejuan in Chinese) and padded applique (堆绫 duiling in Chinese). Silk sticker is a patchwork made of a single layer of spun silk pieces, while padded applique consists of patterns made from multiple layers of silk and other fabrics. The latter, padded applique, was popular among the common people. For example, It was common to embroider patterns of mandarin ducks, Ruyi jade figures ((a filler word to keep all words in the list plural)), five-colored flowers and birds.

米色“纱贴绢”《桃树仙鹤图》乌木雕花柄团扇副本.jpg1.Beige silk gauze sticker “Peach Tree and Red-crowned Crane” with carved ebony moon-shaped fan, Qing dynasty ;  2.Beige silk gauze sticker “Flower and Butterfly” with blue painted and gold lined moon-shaped fan, Qing dynasty

During the Qing dynasty, the skills and techniques of padded applique reached their peak. Silk and other fabrics were well-selected and exquisite, and workmanship was more than excellent. The whole production strove for perfection at all costs.

堆绫项羽魏豹戏像册2副本.jpgProfile Pictures of Xiang Yu and Wei Bao in a Playbook, from Guangxu’s reign, Qing dynasty (1875-1908).

This playbook has blue satin as the base and a patchwork of satin, silk, damask silk and paperboard on the top. Each layer is stuffed, so that the characters would look fuller. The paillette used on clothes and the red pompon on the crown also make the figures vivid and lively. Their faces are painted with a brush to compensate for the inadequate artistic expression of padded applique. This playbook shows some novel techniques that are rare among padded applique embroideries as well as other embroidery works.

The padded applique technique spread to the Tibetan region and evolved into a new kind of Thangka. For example, among the collection at Yonghe Temple in Beijing, there is a piece called “Padded Applique of Green Tara,” which is listed as a class A national cultural heritage. It was made by Emperor Qianlong’s mother with help from maids in the imperial palace, and now this Tangka is already more than 200 years old.

www.gongmeigroup.com.cn.jpg“Padded Applique of Green Tara” consecrated by Qianlong’s mother, Empress Xiaoshengxian

Unfortunately, padded applique skills were lost for a period of time, and nobody knew how to make them for a long time. However, in the 1990s, after three years of careful studies, the Beijing Drawnwork Institute rediscovered this once-lost technique. The padded applique skill now has transcended its previous boundaries; new variations of padded applique such as painting, embossment, silk-drawing, and tufting have been created. The silk embroidery produced shows meticulous work and patterns displaying the national features of China.

7bac34e0c4eb43e08a88b1d3bfac57b4.jpgFrom the collection of Imperial padded applique embroideries – “Ode to Peace.” It pictures a peony surrounded by peace doves. Through this traditional imperial embroidery, we get a glimpse into the endless charm of the Chinese culture.

 

c77e13a5cb7e4043a5fa3f1f29bfa038副本.jpgDetails of “Ode to Peace”

So, what if I told you there is a secret behind this embroidery skill of padded applique, the fate of which is full of ups and downs? Would you be curious to hear what it is?

Or, perhaps you have seen it already? Well, I will unveil the secret to you in the next article!

 

About Interact China


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

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

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Kungfu Clothing, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!

If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!

Wedding Dresses of Chinese Ethnic Minorities

Written by Sabrina Bennis

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

The Miao

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

miao 3

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

 

The Hmong

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

hmong 2hmong

 

The Qiang

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

qiang2qiang 2qiang

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

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The Bai

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

 

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

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The Mongols

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

Mongols2

 

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

 

 

About Interact China


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

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

So far we carry 3000+ goods covering Ladies Fashion, Kungfu Clothing, Home Furnishings, Babies & Kids, Painting Arts, Textile Arts, Carving Arts, Tribal Jewelry Art, Wall Masks and Musical Instruments. Our team speak English, French, German, Spanish and Italian, and serve customers worldwide with passion and hearts.


P.S. We Need People with Similar Passion to Join Our Blogging Team!

If you have passion to write about Oriental Aesthetic in Fashion, Home Decor, Art & Crafts, Culture, Music, Books, and Charity, please contact us at bloggers@interactchina.com, we would love to hear from you!