Maoping is a remote natural village located in Leishan County in Guizhou. Among its 1328 residents, 615 are female who are known for their candor, hospitality and traditional Miao embroidery skills. Due to its remote location, limited information access and economic difficulties, the village was unable to promote the art of embroidery.
With support from Zigen and assistance from Zigen volunteers, the village established a Women’s Recreation Center to develop the Maoping Women Embroidery Handicrafts Project. Developing the embroidery craft is a way to promote Maoping women’s creative art and to help retain Miao people’s cultural heritage. The ethnic embroidery craft is a symbol of Miao people’s unity and development.
For more than 30 years, Zigen has supported Maoping village through building the Women’s Recreation Center, training health clinic workers, providing health clinic medical revolving funds, repairing stoves, improving reed fields, distributing financial aids, and developing women’s embroidery craft, etc.
Maoping Women’s Recreation Center is a two-story wooden structure with two rooms on each floor. The larger room is the activity room, now used for embroidery activity. Both floors contain living spaces. The Center provides event venues and enriches the villagers’ lives.
In addition to doing farm work in the mountains during the day, Maoping women go to the Recreation Center in the evenings — some embroider, some chat, and some sing Miao folk songs. In this remote rural Maoping village, other than performing farm work all day long, there was no way for the women to increase their income. There was no venue for them to get together. Ever since receiving the support from the Zigen team, these women insisted on coming to the Center to embroider until late at night when they go home to rest.
There are unmarried girls, new mother with baby, ambitious and competent women and elderly women close to 70 in the embroidery team. Even though the grannies cannot see the embroidery patterns clearly, they come to Recreation Center anyway to share their “Stories of Chairman Mao”, bringing entertainment to and lessening the farm work fatigue of the younger women.
With continued help and support from Zigen, Maoping women persisted in carrying on with their traditional embroidery crafts. Not only did they embroider clothes for themselves, they also make aprons, small bags, bookmarks, shoes and other artisan crafts for sale. They have sold more than 3,000 embroidery pieces to increase their income and enhance their status in the village.
Translated by Chelsea Zhang, born in Taipei. Worked in the field of retail store design and construction in Shanghai after graduation. She is working in the digital marketing field in Shanghai.
Edited by Florence Pu, BA of Foreign Language and Literature from National Taiwan University, MS of Library Science from University of Rhode Island, currently retired from the University of California system.