Inherited ethnic embroidery culture becomes a new source of income for residents of Qinghai, northwest China

“When I was 12, I started learning embroidery from my mother and my grandmother, and I have been involved in the craft for 30 years. In the past, women of the Salar ethnic group would embroider pillows, belts and shoe covers when preparing a dowry for a daughter of the family when she married,” said Han Yimina, heiress of the embroidery handicraft of the Salar Ethnic Group, the handicraft being a provincial-level intangible cultural heritage project in Qinghai province, northwest China.

The photo shows embroidery work by Han Yimina. (People’s Daily Online/Kuang Yu)

Boasting a long history, Salar embroidery is known for the application of exquisite sewing skills and craftsmanship, with the finished embroidery works taking on a three-dimensional form. In addition, the original characteristics of the Salar embroideries have been well preserved and improved, which has enabled these works to fully embody the traditional culture, folk customs and other characteristics of the local people.

Han Yimina and her husband founded a company in 2007 in Xunhua Salar Autonomous County, Haidong City, Qinghai. Today, women from 120 households in the locality work for the company, with these women also having free time to do their own agricultural work at home, which means they earn money as workers and farmers.

An embroiderer works on an embroidery work piece. (People’s Daily Online/Kuang Yu)

In 2012, Han Yimina found that Salar embroidery had entered a bottleneck period and was on the verge of extinction. To prevent the craftsmanship from being lost forever, she sought support from various departments of Xunhua Salar Autonomous County, and then, with the help and support of relevant departments, she conducted 29 training sessions in crafting techniques. Salar embroidery in the name of women of the Salar ethnic group. Through the training sessions, more local women learned about the embroidery culture of the Salar ethnic group, while many young women were able to master embroidery skills, contributing through their efforts to inheriting and eventually transmitting the culture. Salar embroidery. .

Between 2010 and 2020, a total of 2,600 women from the Salar ethnic group learned embroidery techniques under the guidance of the training program.

“In the past, women from the Salar ethnic group worked as migrant workers or ran restaurants. Nowadays, they can earn money without leaving their homes. Most flex-employed women can earn 20,000 yuan ($2,960) a year,” Han Yimina said.

The photo shows some of the various innovative embroidery products made in the tradition of Salar embroidery. (People’s Daily Online/Kuang Yu)

Besides inheriting the culture of Salar embroidery, Han Yimina is also actively involved in communication activities and has constantly embraced new innovations with the aim of giving new impetus to the art form. His company now manufactures more than 380 embroidery products, compared to 18 when it was created.

(Web editor: Hongyu, Bianji)