Miao Intangible Cultural Heritage  —— Brocade Weaving

Museum of Ethnic Cultures, Minzu University of China

Miao women use their skill at weaving and their distinctive aesthetic to create brocades that reflect their longing for a better life and convey their pride in the long and rich history of the Miao people.In 2008, the brocade weaving skill of Miao was listed among the traditions to be designated “National Intangible Cultural Heritage” by the Chinese Government.

The Brocade Weaving Machine
In the past, almost every Miao household has a brocade weaving machine, the skill of weaving is passed down among generations by women of the family. When a Miao girl gets married, her brocade pieces are an important part of her dowry.
Weaving the Brocade
Line after line, colored thread is woven between layers of twill to create a brocade. Locally known as “Woven Flowers” , there are three types of Miao brocades, “Xijin” is made of pure silk , “Cujin” is made from wool and linen.   And “Caijin” blends of cotton and silk.

Near the town of Shidong, on the Qingshui River, local weavers specialize in weaving Caijin

This kind of brocade weaves a weft of fine silk thread between a warp of rough cotton yarn creating.

The weaver uses a long flat piece of bamboo to pull up some of the warps according to the pattern.

Precision is highly required during this process, one missing warp will change the whole pattern.

Then she uses a wooden shuttle to carry a weft through the warps that have been pulled up to create the pattern.

In the end, the weaver needs to use Dao Shu (the wooden tool in her hand) and the Zhu Kou (a long comb on the weaving machine) to press the weft tight. Weaving such detailed designs is a painstaking process. A skilled weaver can only complete about an inch of brocade in a day

The overlength of the wefts are cut off and saved for later use.

Brocade Apron
Miao girls learn to weave by watching their mothers at work. When they grow up, they will weave their own brocade apron. Caijin aprons are woven with a basic diamond pattern and these interlocking diamonds are modified to create depictions of people, flowers, animals, and geometric motifs. 

The pattern is woven in warm colors, often red, and embellished with purple, green, yellow, and blue.

These colors, alternating cool and warm, create a rhythmic beauty that flows through the cloth, bringing the brocade alive.

During holidays in the Miao mountain villages, Miao women from all around come dressed in their finest showing off not only their vibrantly embroidered jackets but also their finest brocade aprons.

Each Caijin apron is woven by skillful Miao women behind the weaving machine day after day, year after year. Passing on the beauty and history of Miao culture.

Museum of Ethnic Cultures, Minzu University of China
Credits: Story

In Collaboration with Riverbend Academy of Hmongology, Guizhou, China

--- Exhibition Crew ---

Culture Consultants: Yang Peide, An Hong
Project Coordinator: Cecilia Xiong
Exhibition Curator: Lin Wen (linwen@muc.edu.cn)
Chief Photographer: Austin Kramer
Other Photographers: Huang Xiaohai, Shi Kaibao, Lin Wen
Content Writer: Lin Wen
Translator: Austin Kramer, Li Yi, Liu Qing, Lin Wen
Proofreader: Austin Kramer
Video Clip Editor: Lin Wen

--- Mini Documentary Film Crew ---

Director: Lu Ying
Assistant Director: Zhang Te
Video Photographer: Zhi Yuehui, Zhang Te, Ji Xiang
Film Editor: Lu Ying, Zhi Yuehui, Suiwu Changjun
Script Writer: Yang Peide
Script Editor: Lin Wen
Color Adjust: Zhong Rujie, Zhi Yuehui
Music: Audio Jungle
Recording: Chenguang Recording Studio

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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