Preserving the Ancestral Textile Crafts of Dali Village, China

Minority women in rural China are creating new opportunities to help protect their ancestral traditions.

Dali Dong Village by Zhang LiGlobal Heritage Fund

Welcome to Dali Dong Village

For over 1,000 years, the Dong people have made their home in the mountainous Guizhou region of China. Villages are self-sufficient, growing their own food and maintaining cultural traditions handed down through the centuries. 

Drumtower in Dali Dong Village by Zhang LiGlobal Heritage Fund

Dali is a particularly well-preserved Dong village, distinguished by its iconic covered bridges and drum tower (pictured). 

Traditional Clothing in Dali Dong Village by Zhang LiGlobal Heritage Fund

The artisans of Dali are famous for their crafts. Local women create distinctive outfits and indigo-dyed textiles using techniques passed from mother to daughter for generations.


Indigo Dying in Dali Dong Village by Zhang LiGlobal Heritage Fund

Many households still grow and process their own indigo, keeping dye baths placed within the house according to feng shui principles.

Textiles in Dali Dong Village by Zhang SidingGlobal Heritage Fund

The women of the village work together to preserve their ancestral traditions, sharing a body of knowledge accumulated over hundreds of years.



Indigo Textiles in Dali Dong Village by Zhang LiGlobal Heritage Fund

Yet Dali faces a serious problem: with no industry and few local economic opportunities, young residents must leave the village to find work. Their departures slowly weaken the cultural bedrock that distinguishes their home.


Dali Dong Village by Zhang LiGlobal Heritage Fund

To create new jobs for local youth and revitalize their regional crafts, the villagers are now collaborating with international partners and local authorities.


Community Center in Dali Dong Village by Studio ATLASGlobal Heritage Fund

Local women teamed up with Global Heritage Fund to develop a textile co-operative where artisans create and sell products, helping them support their families and connect village youth with their community and homeland.
 

Dali Dong Village at the Venice Biennale of Architecture in 2018 by Davide GalliGlobal Heritage Fund

For its progress preserving vernacular resilience and protecting local traditions, this textile program has won international acclaim — including at the Venice Biennale of Architecture 2018 Across Chinese Cities exhibition.

Community Center in Dali Dong Village by Zhang LiGlobal Heritage Fund

The creation of the textile cooperative and expansion of local crafts to a wider audience has helped Dali's youth. They are now poised to learn the traditions of their mothers and grandmothers while earning livelihoods at home.


Textile Co-Operative in Dali Dong Village by Studio ATLASGlobal Heritage Fund

Yet Dali faces unexpected new obstacles. The women are running out of time for artisan skills training. Many fear that they must now leave Dali in search of work. 

Artisans in Dali Dong Village, Guizhou Province, China by Studio ATLASGlobal Heritage Fund

A New Phase for Heritage Protection

In 2023, Global Heritage Fund joined World Monuments Fund (WMF) in a strategic affiliation. WMF added Dali Village to its project portfolio and began preparing for a new phase of work, building on GHF’s legacy. 

Discover More

Explore updates from Dali Dong Village, Guizhou Province, and learn how World Monument Fund (WMF) is building on the legacy of Global Heritage Fund (GHF): World Monuments Fund and Global Heritage Fund Join Forces in a New Strategic Affiliation

About World Monuments Fund

World Monuments Fund (WMF) is the leading independent organization devoted to safeguarding the world’s most treasured places to enrich people’s lives and build mutual understanding across cultures and communities. The organization is headquartered in New York City with offices and affiliates in Cambodia, France, India, Peru, Portugal, Spain and the UK. Since 1965, our global team of experts has preserved the world's diverse cultural heritage using the highest international standards at more than 700 sites in 112 countries. Partnering with local communities, funders, and governments, WMF draws on heritage to address some of today’s most pressing challenges: climate change, underrepresentation, imbalanced tourism, and post-crisis recovery. With a commitment to the people who bring places to life, WMF embraces the potential of the past to create a more resilient and inclusive society. Learn more at wmf.org.

Partners

Guizhou Administration of Cultural Heritage (GACH)
Guizhou Provincial Research Center of Cultural Heritage Protection (GRCCHP)
Rongjiang County People’s Government
Youcheng China Social Entrepreneur Foundation
Dali Village Committee
Atlas Studio
Xcape Studio
Helin Art in Community
Shephard's Family Textile Cooperative
Peking University

Credits: Story



Global Heritage Fund | In Affiliation With World Monuments Fund

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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