The Artistic Weave

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August 13th 2020
Published: August 13th 2020
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Weaving is one of humankind’s most ancient crafts. The Chinese are especially fond of it. The famous "Chinese knot" is one of China’s most representative cultural symbols. Today, China's weaving culture is very complete. The skillful hands of craftsmen can easily and quickly connect any strips in their hands and make a handicraft, which then become gifts to spread to thousands of households as a beautiful expression of creativity.

Bamboo weaving is the most common craft. It has appeared since the Neolithic period. Because bamboo is crisp and clean and full of elasticity and toughness. It can be easily woven and is both strong and durable. Woven bamboo became the main material for utensils at that time. They used bamboo to weave mostly small objects closely related to daily life with exquisite craftsmanship. Therefore, bamboo strips often need to be polished into a thin piece. Common handicrafts include bamboo baskets, bamboo fans, dustpans, and so on. You can even smell the faint fragrance of bamboo from the freshly woven bamboo products.

Rattan weaving is also an extremely common craft, with a long history of craftsmanship. The raw materials are extremely convenient to obtain from mountain vines. During the Spring and Autumn Period, people began to apply this craft to furniture production, and in the Song Dynasty, it became common craft. During the Ming and Qing Dynasties, it was already evolved to near perfection. Rattan furniture is mostly hand-made of high-quality rattan, which needs to go through dozens of processes such as harvesting, sun drying, weaving, and painting. Sitting on it, it can keep warm in winter and cool in summer, so it is widely used by people in the humid and sultry environments of southern China. Moreover, rattan furniture has excellent toughness, so it is not easily damaged and is very resistant to daily wear and tear.

Palm weaving is the rising star. It is a handicraft made from palm leaves. The most unique product is rain cloth (locally called: Suoyi), which is made of palm leaf silk and brown rope.

Wulong Qingji palm weaving recently successfully applied to become an intangible cultural heritage. The inheritor man was named Shi Shaolan. She has been engaged in palm weaving skills for 7 years. She has her own set of weaving techniques. In her hands, a palm leaf was through pulled, folded, and sheared. After a few minutes, a perfect craft would appear.

When I visited Teacher Shi Shaolan, she was sitting there tirelessly teaching children her weaving methods. The classroom was full of laughter and happiness. She told me that as long as she can weave, she will continue teaching her skills to more people.

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