A young man who weaves Li Brocade

By Li Xiang / HICN / Updated: 17:40,27-December-2021

Li Brocade is a traditional way of the Hainan Li people to make everyday clothes and goods. Originally, the technique of weaving Li Brocade was only supposed to be taught to female family members. However, since Li Brocade was designated as a UNESCO intangible cultural heritage item in 2009, it has received increasing attention from China and around the world, including some men.

Huang Yangwei, a 23-year-old Li man, is one of the new generation of Li Brocade weavers. The young man’s family lives in Maodao Town in Wuzhishan City, and both of his parents are hard-working farmers who don’t earn much.

Huang vividly recalls the day he was introduced to weaving Li Brocade. It was in a class when he was still a senior high student at Wuzhishan Middle School. Since then, the young man has fallen in love with it and tried to learn more about it whenever he could.

Huang Yangwei learned Li Brocade weaving techniques from Liu Xianglan, a national-level Li Brocade artisan. HAINAN DAILY

Huang Yangwei learned more about Li Brocade while visiting the Hainan Provincial Museum of Ethnology. HAINAN DAILY

After graduating from high school, Huang served in the army for two years. Afterwards, the young man continued his studies at the Hainan Vocational University of Science and Technology, where he majored in Business Management.

Huang Yangwei explained the details of weaving Li Brocade to a class at the university. HAINAN DAILY

Improving his Li Brocade weaving techniques has been a priority for Huang in addition to his studies. "In my spare time, I stayed in my dormitory and sat on the floor, practicing weaving,” said Huang with a smile, adding that his works won a craftsman award in Wuzhishan and a Li Brocade Intangible Cultural Heritage award during his time as a college student. "Even today, I still keep in touch with some of the people who taught me how to weave. I would not have gone this far without their help," Huang said.

Now, in addition to being a former serviceman and a college student, Huang has a new identity that he loves — he has become a Li Brocade weaver and an entrepreneur. Not long ago, Huang opened a shop selling Li Brocade products in downtown Wuzhishan with his cousin. The shop has a special name that combines Mandarin Chinese with the Li Language, and means “A Young Man’s Li Brocade Shop”.

Huang Yangwei helped his customers pick out Li Brocade clothes in his shop. HAINAN DAILY

Huang Yangwei showing his bag made of Li Brocade to a passing woman. HAINAN DAILY

As a young man born after 1995, Huang has his own ideas about how to develop this traditional treasure — He plans to integrate new, creative design elements into traditional Li Brocade patterns. Hopefully, this will yield better results in the future and will help more people fall in love with Li Brocade. Huang said, "I hope that Li Brocade clothes can not only be seen at the traditional Double Third Festival of the Li people, but also become a common part of people’s daily lives."

In doing so, Huang believes that he can develop his career and help his family live a better life one day, while making his own contribution to the preservation and promotion of Li Brocade art.



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