Let the world see Li Brocade: The Li Brocade dreams of 3 expats

By / HICN / Updated: 19:54,30-June-2022

The intangible cultural heritage of the Li people, the largest minority group in Hainan, has become a unique, colorful symbol of the province.

Nicki and Inge talk about Li Brocade. 

Nicki Johnson and Ally Duckett from the United States, along with Inge Adendorff from South Africa and a local Chinese artist have formed a team of Li brocade inspired artists called Magnificent Li Handicrafts. Why are they interested in Li Brocade, and how do they bring this ancient art into modern life? In this episode, they discuss the preservation and transmission of intangible cultural heritage and explore the fusion of tradition and international style.

Necklaces designed and made by  Nicki Johnson.

Nicki Johnson has been living in Hainan for 17 years, and her first encounter with Li brocade was a gift from a friend. Due to her work, Nicki has had the chance to visit several Li villages to learn more about Li brocade techniques and Li culture. She said that when she sees a Li brocade pattern, she is very excited to take pictures of it with her phone, then study it later at home, and ask people who might know about it to tell her more about the meaning. When people ask about the handicrafts she designs, Nicki is thrilled to share the stories behind the different Li brocade patterns that inspire them. She hopes that more people will learn about and become interested in the culture, history, and beauty of Li Brocade.

Digital prints designed and made by  Ally Duckett.

Ally has been living in Hainan for ten years. In 2020, Ally found out about the competition for the 2020 Hainan Culture Week of Brocade & Embroidery World Art - A Creative Design Screening Selection of Li Brocade and Decorative Patterns. That was the first time she learned about Li brocade patterns, and she was immediately fascinated by them. She decided to design  beachwear with Li brocade patterns for the contest. Coincidentally, she met Inge, who offered to help her with the clothing patterns. Ally later started adding Li brocade patterns to her digital painting and abstract art, thus finding a broader creative direction.

 A bag designed and made by Inge Adendorff.

Inge, who has been in Hainan for three years, came from a design background. When she first saw Li brocade, she felt that it was full of stories. When it comes to rejuvenating traditional Li brocade, Inge believes that it is essential for more young people to learn about the local culture and the skills of Li brocade.

For three of them, Li brocade is an art that tells many tales, a continuation of an ancient culture, and a vivid embodiment of natural life. They each have found their own way to bring people from around the world into contact with this ancient art, and hope that everyone who encounters Li brocade will fall in love with it just as they have, and join in the effort to keep the tradition alive. 

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