Miao embroidery creates 500,000 jobs for women in SW China’s Guizhou province

A Miao embroidery master is doing stitchwork at an embroidery base in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren, Guizhou province, May 21. Photo by Long Yuanbin, People’s Dialy Online

By Zhang Jinruo, People’s Daily

Miao embroidery, a traditional stitchwork skill of China’s Miao ethnic group, is now creating over half a million jobs in southwest China’s Guizhou province.

“Arduous poverty alleviation efforts have been made in my hometown in recent years. The people there are gaining a sense of happiness, from infrastructure construction to rising entrepreneurship, and to the development of the Miao embroidery. The improved infrastructure facilities are giving cities completely new looks, and the prospering ethic culture industry is also paving the way toward a better life.”

The above remarks were made by Shi Liping, a deputy to the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC), and head of Fanjingshan Ethnic Miao Travel Product Development Co. Ltd. based in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Guizhou during an interview.

In a traditional Miao ethnic costume, Shi received interview from journalists, sharing the stories of poverty alleviation driven by Miao embroidery in her hometown.

Miao embroidery is a stitchwork skill inherited by Miao ethic group. Normally the stitchwork is embroidered in five colors and different patterns. It is of strong local features and artistic appeal. However, Miao embroidery was produced by only a small number of local people in home-based workshops, so both the production and sales were limited.

As the 7th generation of inheritor of the traditional skill, Shi has always been exploring the methods to develop, carry on and exploit the Miao embroidery. She took 8 years since 2000 and traveled over 15,000 kilometers just to collect historical materials of the Miao embroidery, and finally established an embroidery team consisting three masters at the end of 2008. Now, the team of three has been expanded to a large group of over 4,000 members, including laid-off female workers, left-behind women and migrant workers returning home.

The costume Shi wore during the interview was produced by her own brand. It integrated traditional Miao ethnic pattern “pigeon flower” with traditional Miao culture and modern fashion. Shi’s costumes are now exported to 67 countries and regions.

“I believe ‘exploitation’ is the best development and the best inheritance. After training, my employees acquired a skill and became well-off,” Shi noted.

Miao embroidery is not exclusive to women. During the interview, Shi introduced a male embroidery master named Yang Guangrong who’s lower body is paralyzed due to an accident years ago. He joined Shi’s embroidery group in 2017 and became a male embroidery master.

Shi introduced that under the leadership of the Party and government, a total of 1.88 impoverished people in Guizhou have relocated to townships from inhospitable areas. “I established 100 poverty-alleviation workshops in the relocation sites, and achieved a turnover of over 60 million yuan, which created more than 4,000 jobs for the relocated.

“Miao embroidery has created half a million jobs for Guizhou’s women,” she said. “I’m a spokesperson for Miao embroidery, and I sincerely invite you to visit our colorful Guizhou, experience the charm of our culture, and share the joy of poverty alleviation.”

Shi Liping, a deputy to the 13th National People’s Congress (NPC), is interviewed via video link. Photo by Weng Qiyu, People’s Daily Online

The photo shows a Miao embroidery tippet. Miao embroidery of Songtao Miao Autonomous County is named as China’s intangible cultural heritage in 2006. 

A Miao embroidery master is doing stitchwork at an embroidery base in Songtao Miao Autonomous County, Tongren, Guizhou province, May 21. Photo by Long Yuanbin, People’s Dialy Online