Coffee with craft: Starbucks project preserves cultural heritage
To celebrate International Women's Day, two rural ethnic women from southwestern Yunnan Province visited the Starbucks Intangible Culture Heritage Concept Store in Shanghai on Wednesday, presenting traditional craftsmanship, tie-dye and Yi-style embroidery.
Zhang Hanmin, an ethnic Bai from the Dali Bai Autonomous Prefecture, and Duan Wanjun, an ethnic Yi growing up in Dali, are among beneficiaries of the "Rural Mother Accelerator" charity project launched by Starbucks. The project has so far helped 50 female inheritors of intangible cultural heritage to start their own business and helped more rural women get employed.
Zhang grew up in Zhoucheng Village, Dali, known as the hometown of tie-dyeing. Ten years ago, she and her husband quit their jobs in Beijing and returned home to devote themselves to promoting tie-dye.
"After my grandmother died, the dusty loom in her house reminded me that if we young people don't work hard to inherit, the craft would be lost forever," she recalled. "I felt a strong sense of urgency in my heart."
She revealed that there were more than 400 looms and 1,000 weavers in Zhoucheng Village at one time, but now there are only about 20 looms and less than 10 elderly people weaving. "But, thankfully, we can still weave."
As a result, she founded her tie-dye label, Lan Xu, in hopes of preserving the craft and the blue color associated with tie-dye.
Zhang was very happy to receive assistance from the Starbucks project, which has provided her team with training in various aspects of techniques, management and business operations, as well as designers to help with designs for the products.
Zhang and her team go to a school in Zhoucheng Village once a month, teaching students the craft of tie-dye. She hopes the students can learn traditional culture from a very young age.
"I hope that through our efforts, we can promote tie-dye development so that more young people can understand and appreciate the beauty of the ancient craft," Zhang said.