Young female saving traditional dyeing craft from dying

Share This Post

In traditional Chinese medicine, herbs are often used to help treat illness. But in the hands of Qi Hui, the herbs can turn into works of art.

It is hard to believe that the beautiful colors of the wallets, scarves and handbags in Qi's studio are all dyed from herbs.

The 40-year-old inheritor of the time-honoured dyeing craft hails from Dingxi City, in northwest China's Gansu Province, where the craft with centuries-long history is now under county-level protection as a local intangible cultural heritage.

Dingxi boasts a myriad of herbal medicines. The local specialty, combined with China's tradition of hand-dyeing, leads to the birth of the old craft.

"When I was a child, my grandmother used to fork up the roots of plants grown in the mountains and then boil the roots to help dye clothing. I can still recall that lovely shade of orange of the clothing. I was captured by the charm of the traditional dyeing method," Qi said, adding that it was from her grandmother that she learnt ancient crafts including hand-dyeing, embroidery and paper cutting.

For Qi, dyeing with the help of natural herbs remains the most fascinating. "In modern society, it's common to use chemicals for dyeing. But the traditional way of extracting coloring pigments from herbs can be both fashionable and close to nature," said Qi.

The primitive method demands huge reserves of patience, as specific alkaline pigments must be boiled within an appropriate time period at around 20 degrees Celsius. "Even a one-minute nuance can result in the wrong color," Qi explained.

Such a perfect integration of the old craft and modern textiles soon won consumers' hearts. In 2016, with the support of the local government, Qi established her studio to produce more artwork using dyeing, embroidery and handbag making skills.

She also trained hundreds of rural women workers for free, hoping that their participation in the old tradition could help local females lead better lives. Wang Meier, a local villager, earned about 6,000 yuan (about 886 U.S. dollars) during her two-month training course in the studio.

"Young people are essential to the development of rural China. As a member of the young generation, I view devoting myself to the rural development cause as my long-term endeavor and commitment," Qi added.

In 2019, Qi registered a company to produce and sell handicrafts built upon the traditional dyeing method. More than 70 employees work in her company, including 60 casual workers who can embroider and dye clothing in their spare time without delaying daily farm work. The company has now received about 10,000 orders.

Qi is now head of Dingxi's intangible cultural heritage association. She plans to further explore the artistic value of the old dyeing craft.

"I hope that the traditional art could help spread traditional Chinese culture and allow more to be touched by its beauty. It's also my dream to help more females to earn a better life by their own hard work. The ancient craft can create way more value," Qi said.

Follow on Twitter and Facebook to join the conversation.
ChinaNews App Download

Related Posts

Concert held in New Zealand featuring Chinese cultural elements

A concert held at Auckland Town Hall on Thursday night impressed the New Zealand audience with classic Chinese musical works.

Beijing jazz festival concludes

The 2022 Taihu Jazz Festival, a popular cultural event in Beijing, concluded on Wednesday night.During the five-day event, nearly 100 musicians from over 10 jazz bands presented a musical feast for the audience, including the premiering of a number of original works.

Namibia singers ready to represent Africa at World Choral Expo

Namibian singing group Collective Singers will embark on their journey to represent Africa at the World Choral Expo in Lisbon, Portugal from Sept. 3 to 7.

Shanghai Disneyland to host new 'Avatar' exhibition

Shanghai Disney Resort in collaboration with James Cameron and Jon Landau's Lightstorm Entertainment and Disney Location-Based Experiences, announced on Thursday that "Avatar: Explore Pandora," an immersive exhibition inspired by the highest-grossing film of all time "Avatar," will open in Shanghai Disneyland from Sept. 22, 2022 to March 2023. This will be the first Avatar-themed touring exhibition to be hosted in a Disney Park worldwide.

Beijing Fashion Week 2022 lights up traditional cultural landmarks

Beijing Fashion Week 2022 raised its curtain on Thursday with the fashion show "Night of Fashion Aesthetics" staged at Wangfujing Street, an iconic commercial strip in the Chinese capital.

Self-portrait exhibition gives an intriguing picture

Fifty self-portraits by well-known artists is being showcased in a 10-exhibition series in Shanghai.The series, presented by the Uffizi Galleries, Florence, Italy, ranges from Renaissance masters such as Italian painters Raphael and Titian, and Flemish Baroque painter Rubens to contemporary figures like Japanese artist Yayoi Kusama and Chinese multidisciplinary artist Cai Guoqiang.
- Advertisement -spot_img