Miao Intangible Cultural Heritage

— Batik

A Miao traditional song tells the story of batik. In it, the Goddess Washuang wanted to make an umbrella to hold up the sky. First, she invited the God of Bees to dance on the cloth, making a pattern in wax. Then she invited the God of Indigo to dye the fabric.  Finally, she stretched it over a frame, and the celestial umbrella was complete. She then passed this technique on to two Miao girls, Ayang and Abu. Life in the mountains is hard, but the Miao fill their days with dancing and music, and as they dance, the indigo gods on their batik clothing dance with them.

The distinctive style of Miao batik, comes from the stylized use of lines and shapes.

Combined with a diverse array of themes and techniques, and the creativity of the women who design them.

With innovation inspired by Miao folklore, they transform the abundance of plants and animals in nature into bold, stylized world of legends and fantasy.

Tools

With simple tools and fantastic imagination, Miao women create the intricate world of blue and white on self-weaved cloth.

Wax-drawing pen, which is made of 2 pieces of copper tied to one stick, the space in between the copper pieces holds the melted wax and flows slowly through the tip of ends while drawing.

Bee wax waiting to be melted for the purpose of drawing patterns.

Melted bee wax on hot charcoal.

Self-weaved cloth.

Jawbones of ox is used to flatten the cloth before drawing wax.

Flattening the cloth.

Made from the leaves of Chinese Indigo (Persicaria tinctoria) picked on the mountain slopes, then soaked in water in a barrel and left to ferment for a month, the dye changes color from pale greenish yellow to the dark blue.

It is then filtered and blended with a careful measure of lime to produce the rich, dark blue dye that is synonymous with indigo.

This concentrate, carefully diluted diluted with water and the ash of rice straw, produces a color in fabric that will not fade with wear or washing.

Drawing the Wax Pattern

Batik is a traditional process of resist-dyeing that uses wax to draw patterns on fabric using special pens.

Before drawing with wax, the artist usually use a needle to press a draft first.

Boil off the Wax

After the dye is set, the fabric is boiled to remove the wax, revealing the blue and white pattern.

Rinse in the river.

Traditional Pattern — Taiji Fish

Fish bears many auspicious meanings in Miao culture usually relate to fertility. Two fish in the form of Taiji diagram create a circle, which represent the sun or the sky, meanwhile it can also be interpreted as the female organ and origin of life.

Research –
Museum of Ethnic Cultures, Minzu University of China

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