Journal 01. Travel diary #1

04/11/2019

We never know when we will have the chance to achieve our dreams. We all probably do have many ideals and ambitious projects in mind, set aside and wisely kept… until one day : when our destiny sets the perfect conditions to start what we had only projected in our minds for years.

Qiuka rice fields, Guangxi

FIRST PART

On April 11, 2019, our dream begins, DEYI.

As Adriana from Madrid and Pauline from Paris, we embark on a new adventure that will take us to the country that for some unknown reasons, we feel at ease just like at home. In China, Zhang Xing was waiting for us, as the third core member of this project that aims to embrace a more conscious and responsible way of living, rooted in the respect of the traditions and crafts, for a more sustainable future.

This trip was the first investigation for the development of our project, a dream that did not even have a name at that time, but that results from our destiny and our intimate passion for the Chinese culture. The main objective of our trip was to understand the current situation of ancestral crafts techniques, in particular traditional fabrics of several ethnic minorities in Guangxi, as well as the vision of artisans for the future of their ancient practices.

Cotton handmade weaving

In the context of modernization and globalization, we had imagined that the current situation was not very favorable, but without a doubt, we did not expect that it was so bleak in the several villages of Guangxi we visited. Indeed, the continuity of these traditional know-hows was next to nil. The wooden houses with blue indigo fabrics flying in the wind were nothing but a memory. We became real witnesses of the disappearance of an exceptional cultural heritage.

Yao minority family with their traditional clothes

We traveled from Beijing to Danian in Guangxi Province, where we had our hotel. From this small town, we visited every day neighboring villages seeking families who were willing to collaborate and share their knowledge relative to their traditional fabrics with us. We wished them to see the selfless love we have for their culture, even as foreigners. Our only desire is to help them preserve their intangible heritage which is disappearing in our society of mass consumption in a constant search for low-quality materials manufactured in an irresponsible way. 

At Danian we had the pleasure of meeting Mrs Stephanie Debue, manager of the NGO « Couleurs de Chine » in Guangxi. This French Association helps the schooling of young girls from local minorities. Stephanie gave us key advice to pursue of investigation in the region.

Miao women from Gaoma village

This first investigation trip took place between the different rice fields in the region:

– Qiuka, Yao Minority Village

– Gaoma Village, Miao minority Village

– Xiang Tang Village, Miao Minority Village

– Guihe Village, Dong Minority Village

All along our path, we had the opportunity to meet unique people who transmitted us their inspiring stories and values. They will be part of us and of this project forever. We feel having the responsibility now to share their knowledge.

Mrs Tigao

Mrs Tigao and her husband taught us the importance of taking care of what has shaped and nurtured you as a person. They are inspiring for their humility and their consciousness. They both are really grateful for the nature, in particular their rice fields that permits them to eat enough all year long. Above all, they taught us the beauty of loving and welcoming the unknown without fear and the willingness to transmit their knowledge. 

We are really thankful for Madam Tigao and his husband. The sense of pride of their roots is a deep source inspiration for our project.

Dandan

Although the situation is not really optimistic in terms of preserving the textile techniques in this region, we had the pleasure of seeing that there are still younger generations that are committed to preserve the crafts that had shaped their identity in the past: Dandan and Shilan are two clear examples. These two women are fighting to pursue the traditional embroidery techniques. Shilan, in particular, dreams fondly of opening her own embroidery workshop to teach the traditional know-hows to young girls and boys. 

Hopefully soon, we will be committed to make our contribution to this inspiring initiative, which is undoubtedly a breath of hope in transmitting the entire crafts history of the region.

Adriana with Miao women

This was a short summary of our first trip. Some moments of disillusion but more importantly of enthusiasm and hope to help the preservation of what we are passionate about. The first step of a dream has just been taken. Don’t miss our progress.

DEYI 德逸 FOUNDERS

You want to contribute to the schooling of young girls from local minorities in Guangxi ? Do not hesitate to give funds to the local association on their website : https://couleursdechine.org

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