On my first morning in Kaili, we met local embroidery tutor and traditional textile collector Mrs Zhang, who came with us on a trip into the countryside to visit some villages. We followed a road up the side of a river valley (unfortunately I can't work out which direction we went in!) and our first stop was by a dam on the river. The photo below shows fishing places on the same river.
From left - Sarah (from the USA, studying for her MA in Chinese at Guiyang), Mrs Zhang, Angel (project organiser) and me.
The building in the background is a project Mrs Zhang has started. It is a traditionally built building and her plan is to turn it into a guest house for tourists in the area. She could not have chosen a more beautiful spot.
It seems that this kind of traditional construction is made in a similar way to traditional Japanese buildings - the timbers sit on padstones rather than on a continuous foundation and the roof is finished before the walls are completed.
I'm holding a piece of the local limestone, which has beautiful banding across it. There seems to be a lot of iron in the stone.
Mrs Zhang has also invested in the dam project below the guest house build.
Construction details -
A little further along we stopped by a natural spring by the road.
A lot of houses in the villages are now brick built and many new houses were being built all over the place. Much of the development seems to go in stages and I'm guessing a lot is self build too.
This was opposite where we stopped for lunch. It is a Miao owned and operated embroidery factory.
paper decorations for good luck and protection around the doors.
Windows around Kaili either have decorative grilles in front of them or incorporated into the window frame and glazed.
Across the road - inside the embroidery factory.
About fifteen machine heads were running off one computer.
It was hypnotic to watch the stitching. I've tried uploading a video, but I'm not sure if it will work... (first time to try to upload a video to blogger!)
Some of the thread combinations are quite subtle, others are very bright.
The traditional shining cloth (polished indigo) is the base cloth for the embroidery.
Back at the restaurant, the lady running it returned to her hand embroidery once our lunch was served. The embroidery is done over a paper template that is stuck to the fabric, i.e. the template stays in the finished piece.
A few more photos so you can compare the hand work with the machine embroidery. Obviously, the hand embroidery has a much higher value, but we were told that the high cost of festival outfits meant that many people now buy machine embroidery.
A block of polystyrene tied to the back of the chair was a gigantic pin cushion.
The back of the hand embroidery.