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Feature: an introduction to Li brocade

Li brocade is a kind of richly decorative shuttle-woven fabrics, often made in colored cotton and sometimes, with fine, delicate threads. In the Li ethnic regions, one may frequently see Li-style skirts, blouses and tops, colorful hat and belts, bags, Chinese dragon quilts made of Li brocade. Those beautiful homemade textile products reflect the unique ethnic and local cultures and aesthetic values.

The patterns of Li brocade fall into six general categories, namely, human figure pattern, animal pattern, flora pattern, tool pattern, geometrical shape patterns, and Chinese Character Pattern.  The patterns on the Li brocade often reflect the close connection and deep affection between the Li ethnic group and the Nature. Those patterns even reflect the geographical characteristics of the region where the brocade makers dwell. Women living in the mountainous areas frequently choose to use abstract and exaggerated Hainan Deer Patterns, bird patterns, other animal patterns, or butterfly patterns, bee patterns, or bug patterns, or kapok patterns, dragon-bone flower patterns. In contrast, women living in plain area tend to use fish patterns, prawn patterns, frog patterns, or patterns of animals that are quite common in agricultural fields. Natural herbs and plants are their handy sources as the dye materials, making the cotton threads into various colors to achieve the characteristics of floweriness. However, these grassroots artists do not confine themselves in the creating of the common patterns. Sun and moon, stars and thunders, rivers and mountains, clouds and rain, bamboos and vines, Chinese dragons and phoenixes, eagles, sparrows, buffalos etc. can all be used in their pattern design when their sparks of inspiration are ignited by their life and the Nature.

The origin of Li brocade can be traced back to mid-Tang Dynasty when the Li brocade products were official tributes to the royal family. Li People’s invaluable talents of producing Li brocade and the great variety of intricate patterns were faithfully recorded in documents in detail in Song Dynasty. All the historical records indicate that Li ethnic group achieved high level of producing the brocade quite early.

In fact, Li brocade even boost the great development of textile skills in the mainland area of China in Yuan Dynasty. Huang Daopo, the renowned reformer of textile skills and tools, lived in the Li ethnic region more than thirty years and learned all the skills of making brocade from Li People. When she came back to the mainland area, she promote the popularity of these skills and creatively made some innovative improvements. Her great efforts led to a grassroots revolution in textile manufacturing in China.



Feature: An Introduction to Li Brocade