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Cultural Heritage

Embroidering a beautiful life

By Niu Jingjing

June 7

An embroidery workshop in an impoverished county in Inner Mongolia not only promotes Mongolian culture, but also helps local women out of poverty.

An embroidery workshop in an impoverished county in Inner Mongolia not only promotes Mongolian culture, but also helps local women out of poverty.

A seamstress embroiders flowers at the Tushenyetu Wangfu Embroidery Workshop in Kerqin Region’s Right-Wing Central Banner, Inner Mongolia, on May 30, 2018. [Photo/Niu Jingjing]
Tushenyetu embroidery originated in the Qing Dynasty, and was worn only by nobility who lived in the royal palace. It is a type of traditional Mongolian handcraft from Kerqin Region’s Right-Wing Central Banner, and was inscribed on the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region’s list of intangible cultural heritage in 2009.

Today, few people now wear this ancient style of clothing. This has led to a decreasing number of artisans of the craft.

In order to attract more people to uphold this traditional culture, a workshop was built in 2016, which is co-managed by the local University Graduates Employment and Startups Association and the Xiangrui Embroidery Poverty Alleviation Service Company.

“We live in an impoverished county.  As one of high-level cadres of the CCP, I have a responsibility to find ways to help people out of poverty,” said Bai Jingying, the initiator of the poverty alleviating project.

Bai Jingying shows one of her designs, which was embroidered at the Tushenyetu Wangfu Embroidery Workshop in Kerqin Region’s Right-Wing Central Banner, Inner Mongolian, on May 30, 2018. [Photo/Niu Jingjing]
Bai started to learn embroidery from her mother when she was just 7 years old. She never gave it up because of her interest in it. Later, she decided to teach local women embroidery by holding free training classes in different counties.

“In 2017, we trained a total of 5,782 women. When they went home, they came back with one or two more people, so we reached 10,000 last year. This year there are about 21,000 women who are making money from embroidery. Among them, there are 2,895 poor families with an average annual income of 1,809 yuan. This year that income is expected to reach 3,000 yuan,” Said Bai.

Zhao Guirong, 34, is an embroidery artisan famed in her village. She began to learn from Bai in March last year. She earned almost 40,000 yuan by doing embroidery in one year.

Zhao Guirong(left) embroidering at the Tushenyetu Wangfu Embroidery Workshop in Kerqin Region’s Right-Wing Central Banner, Inner Mongolian on May 30, 2018. [Photo/Niu Jingjing]
“I did farm work before, but the pay was low, so we had to take out loans. With the low pay it was difficult to repay the loans, which, in turn, compelled us to borrow more money from other people, “said Zhao Guirong.

So far, 15 of the banner’s villages have changed their major industry to embroidery, with sales reaching 4.5 million yuan in 2017, and 2.3 million yuan in the first five months of this year.

According to Yang Fulin, the chairman of the association, the workshop has employed about 50 university graduates to do management and marketing. They help design the patterns, choose the embroidery for different products, and sell them on different platforms.

A display cabinet at the Tushenyetu Wangfu Embroidery Workshop in Kerqin Region’s Right-Wing Central Banner, Inner Mongolian on May 30, 2018. [Photo/Niu Jingjing]
“We have made more than 200 types of self-designed products, such as Mongolian robes, back cushions, pen containers, bags, and shoes. In the future, we are going to design more products with local cultural elements,” said Yang.

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