Textile Odyssey Tour to Southwest China 2020
Guangxi and Guizhou (April 18 – April 30)
Yunnan (April 30 - May 8)
Textile Odyssey takes us to Guizhou, Guangxi and Yunnan, three southwest provinces that are home to more than half of China’s fifty-six ethnic groups. We’ll travel to remote, out-of-the-way places where, despite the modernization of China in its urban areas, many ethnic minority groups continue to make and wear their distinctive group outfits.These elaborately handcrafted garments reflect pride in both their clan identities and craftsmanship. In villages and small towns, we’ll see China’s rich cultural diversity in the ethnic dress worn by a variety of subgroups of Dong, Miao, Yao, Bouyei, Yi, Zhuang, Bai, etc. In the homes of local artisans, we’ll witness demonstrations of textile techniques passed on through generations of ancestors including indigo-dyeing, calendaring, pleating, batik, stitch-resist, supplementary weft weaving, embroidery, folded piecework, braiding, etc. Inspired by discoveries during numerous Textile Odysseys, we’ll visit our “tried and true” favorites and also explore “new” remote villages and markets where we meet clans who remain unknown to most of the world and learn firsthand about their history, beliefs, culture, and unique world-views.
Guangxi and Guizhou
Miao women in festival dress Guizhou, 2019
We meet in Guilin, Guangxi Province, a city known for its striking karst landscapes. Traveling overland from eastern Guizhou to western Guizhou, we encounter many ethnic minorities who continue to handcraft and wear their distinctive and elaborately embellished group dress, expressing pride in their craftsmanship as well as their cultural legacy. In this tranquil setting of rural villages and small towns graced by ancient architecture --beautiful traditional wooden houses, painted Drum Towers, and Wind and Rain Bridges -- we’ll meet master textile artisans from subgroups of Dong, Miao, Bouyei, Yao, Shui, Zhuang, and Yi.
Bouyei woman weaving supplementary weft design, Guizhou 2010
Highlights in Guangxi and Guizhou include:
-Demonstrations of indigo-dyeing, calendaring and skirt pleating
-Batik demonstrations and explanation of silk "felt" process
-Demonstrations of horsehair embroidery
-Visit to an embroidery gallery with a hands-on workshop in folded piecework (participation is optional) and lecture on tin foil embroidery as well as other special embroidery techniques
-Weaving demonstrations in several villages, including supplementary weft weaving demonstrations
-Museum visit of Guizhou ethnic groups
-Musical performance with Miao dancers in full regalia - handwoven, embroidered outfits with elaborate silver headdresses and necklaces
-Visit several Miao villages in western Guizhou. These groups batik and embroider their distinctive group outfits. We may also be able to see their special wheel for spinning hemp yarn.
-Visit a Yi clan in western Guizhou
Bai woman working on stitch-resist cloth, Yunnan, 2019
Our trip in Yunnan begins in Kunming, Yunnan’s capital city, known as “The City of Eternal Spring” for its year-round temperate climate and perpetually blooming flowers. The frontier province of Yunnan borders Burma, Vietnam, and Laos and is home to twenty-five ethnic groups. While the Yi are the largest ethnic minority group in Yunnan, they remain relatively unknown to the world. As part of Textile Odyssey’s eco-tourism goals to bridge cultures, promote awareness and documentation of unique cultures and textile traditions, and enrich our vision and understanding of the world, we’ll visit three “mystery” Yi villages. We’ll learn about their unique dress and textile traditions and also learn about their ancestral history, beliefs, and world views. We’ll also encounter many other ethnic minorities including the Phula, Yao, Miao, Zhuang, and Bai. An exciting highlight of our itinerary is a local festival where several communities gather in their best ethnic outfits.
Yi woman in group dress. Yunnan, 2019
Exciting highlights of our Yunnan itinerary include:
-Attend a Spring festival unknown to mainstream tourism where many ethnic groups come dress in their best group outfits
-Visit local markets attended by a variety of ethnic minorities.
-Visit several villages unknown to outsiders. We’ll learn about the textile techniques and the history, culture and beliefs of these clans.
-Visit the ancient town of Dali. Located at the crossroads of trade routes between Tibet, China, Burma and Southeast Asia and surrounded by mountains and Erhai Lake, this town is known for its ancient Bai architecture.
-Witness demonstrations of indigo dyeing and stitch-resist, an ancient tradition of the Bai people.
-Museum with extensive exhibits of ethnic dress, musical instruments, and other cultural artifacts from Yunnan
Zhuang women and Yi men and women at local festival , Yunnan, 2019
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