Guangxi Zhuang Brocade

Guangxi Zhuang Brocade

Zhuang brocade is produced in Guangxi Zhuang Autonomous Region, the densely populated area of the Zhuang minority.

The splendid handicraft of Zhuang brocade was gradually formed during the Tang and Song dynasties (618-1279), appearing as a mixture of silk, fiber and cotton. By the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368-1911), Zhuang brocade became the court tributes. Woven with colorful floss and widely used in the daily life of the Zhuang people, the brocade won national fame for its rich colors and durability. At that time, every county produces Zhuang brocade. Zhuang people like colorful things, and they use five-color gloss to make clothes, and embroider flowers and birds onto them. A brocade quilt-cover is indispensable as a dowry, for local people are good at weaving. Brocade is made with five-color gloss, thick and durable, worth 5 liang of tael. Girls begin to learn how to weave before reaching marriageable age.

Zhuang brocade, featuring rich colors and durability, has been steadily improving over the past thousand years, developing three main categories, with more than 20 varieties and over 50 designs, forming its own school.

Zhuang brocade is woven on a manual loom, consisting of a supportive system, a transmitter, a dividing system and a jacquard system, and woven in beautiful designs with natural cotton warp and dyed velour weft.

There are more than ten traditional designs. The patterns vary from waves, clouds, grass and flowers to animals. Most are the common things in life and decorative patterns indicating bliss and happiness. Phoenix, the symbol of auspiciousness, takes a dominant role in these designs.

Geometrical patterns are often seen: squares, waves and clouds, and concentric circle. There are also various flowers, plants, and animals, such as butterflies courting flowers, phoenixes among peonies, two dragons playing one pearl, lions playing balls and carps jumping dragon doors. In recent years, new pictures have emerged, such as mountains and rivers in Guilin, grain harvests, sunflowers facing the sun, nationality unions, and so on. These new pictures reflect the Zhuang people's new life and new morale, and also enrich their traditional culture.

The brocade with delicate designs and bright colors is embedded with fine crafts and high practical value. It is excellent for making quilt faces, tablecloths, scarves, aprons, satchels, girdles and handbags.

Since the 1980s, the production of Zhuang brocade has introduced new technology and modern Zhuang brocade factories have been set up. Its variety and quality have greatly improved. Zhuang brocade is not only loved by the Zhuang people but is also exported to Europe, America and Southeast Asia.

Zhuang brocade not only provides material evidence for research on the weaving craftsmanship of China's ethnic minorities, but also stands as an example of China as well as the world's weaving history.