HELPING A COLORFUL TRADITION PROSPER
After 10 years of living and working far from home, Wu Zhengping, who is of Miao ethnicity, returned and is committed to the craftsmanship for which her ancestors are famous. Chinese embroidery dates back several thousand years. Embroidery skills are commonly used in the lives of Miao people. Miaoxiu, or embroidery of the Miao, which features rich and splendid colors and exaggerated shapes and lines, was among the first traditions listed as a national intangible cultural heritage.
The tradition is well preserved in Huayuan county in Hunan province, where Wu was born and grew up. In recent years the county has invested heavily in developing new crafts and products of Miao embroidery and brocade, and training and passing on the technique.
When Wu returned home in 2017, she decided to join a free embroidery training program led by skilled local Miao artisans. Now she is a qualified craftswoman and, more important, is able to be with her family every day.
There are more villagers like Wu returning home due to the embroidery training program, which now reaches more than 20 bases in four counties in the Xiangxi Tujia and Miao autonomous prefecture in Hunan. The program, called Get Mothers Home, has trained more than 6,000 female workers, created nearly 3,000 jobs and increased locals’ average annual income by 5,000 yuan. The embroidery program not only helps the tradition prosper, but also helps the county to alleviate poverty.
Wu Zhengping works on a piece of embroidery. Wu and her sons visit a local scenic spot in Huayuan county in Hunan province. Wu accompanies her sons Shi Wenhao (left) and Shi Wenze as they do their homework in a courtyard at home. Wu’s father-in-law (center) teaches bamboo weaving to the younger generations. A skilled Miao artisan shows embroidery to Wu and her sons at a base of the craftsmanship training program.