CHINA / SOCIETY
Flourishing Inner Mongolia's intangible culture improves life for local women on the grasslands
Published: May 14, 2021 01:45 AM

Women from different ethnicities in Tuquan county learn papercutting art. Photo: Li Fuli

Women from different ethnicities in Tuquan county learn papercutting art. Photo: Li Fuli


On the Inner Mongolia grasslands, ethnic Mongolian women are more confident and living in better conditions while their own cultural characteristics are vigorously promoted.

Nearly 30,000 women in Hinggan League, North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region, have gathered to learn and pass on Inner Mongolia's intangible cultural heritage like embroidery and paper cutting art, embracing a more colorful life.

Combined with rural revitalization and quality education for farmers and herdsmen, local authorities have actively engaged in the development of traditional Mongolian handicraft skills, exploring ways for local ethnic minority women to work from home in low season and make a profit with their special technique.

The greatest benefit of the promotion of Mongolian intangible cultural heritage by the government is that it has improved production methods in rural areas that have been dominated by male labor for a long time. Now, more women can participate in the economic development and cultural revitalization of their hometown, Bai Jingying, Director of the Standing Committee of the Horqin Right Wing Middle Banner People' s Congress, and leader of Mongolian embroidery group, told the Global Times.

Bai noted that the Horqin Right Wing Middle Banner's Mongolian embroidery originated in the royal court of the grassland nobility in the Qing Dynasty ( 1644-1911) and later became part of local folklore, which is deeply rooted in the Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region.

Mongolian women in embroidery workshop in Horqin Right Wing Middle Banner. Photo: Lin Xiaoyi/GT

Mongolian women in embroidery workshop in Horqin Right Wing Middle Banner. Photo: Lin Xiaoyi/GT


Since 2016, with the support of the local authorities, Bai has organized more than 100 Mongolian embroidery classes in 173 villages. 26,000 women received embroidery training who later received orders from local enterprises to earn some pocket money.

By the end of 2019, the average annual income of 2,895 registered poverty-stricken women working in the embroidery industry had increased by more than 2,000 yuan ($310), and more than 500 embroidery workers earned salaries above 50,000 yuan ($7,745) a year.

In addition to working at home or in workshops, local women also organized their own teams to show their embroidery skills and ethnic costumes to tourists at various scenic spots during the holidays.

"The promotion of Mongolian embroidery has brought us not only more income but also  better life expectations for the future," Bai noted. 

In Tuquan county, several local women actively participated in the traditional paper-cutting art classes at cultural center of their village on their days off.

"Tuquan is a county where Han, Manchu and Mongolian ethnicities live together. Our paper cutting art contains a variety of ethnic symbols which reflect the ethnic integration from ancient times up to the present and our training class have also attracted attention of women from different ethnic backgrounds," Zhao Rixia, from the Manchu ethnicity and inheritor of the Tuquan county paper cutting skills, told the Global Times. Since 2005, she has trained over 2,000 local women to master this traditional "new craft."

"Now, we share our paper cutting experience and new creative ideas with each other every day. Our lives are more fulfilling, and we are proud of our work and to inherit local ethnic history and culture," she said.


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