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Cultural Inheritor Promotes Local Economy Through Embroidery, Tourism

Viewed 2887 times 2018-12-28 11:12 |System category:News

Shen Yanyan dresses in bright Qiang clothes to introduce a tourist to the customs of the Qiang ethnic group. [] 


An embroidery expert from Niufei, a village in the county of Pingwu, Mianyang city, southwest China's Sichuan Province, has boosted the local economy over the past decade by promoting crafts and cultural tourism.  

Shen Yanyan, who is from the Qiang ethnic group, learned about her culture's distinctive style of embroidery from her grandma when she was a child. 

Since 1999, she ran her own businesses in downtown Mianyang. In 2008, she returned to her hometown after it was affected by a big earthquake in nearby Wenchuan County. 

Seeing her hometown in a state of devastation, Shen, as an inheritor of Qiang embroidery, an intangible cultural heritage of Pingwu, hoped to help rebuild it by teaching the traditional embroidery to her fellow citizens. 

In 2009, Shen founded a vocational education institute to give women free training. In the process, she felt the power of the embroidery, which enabled some people who lost their relatives in the earthquake to get rid of their sad mood and regain the courage to live. 

Considering the serious damage inflicted on her culture by the earthquake, Shen decided to revitalize it and find more inheritors. 

Wearing the traditional costume of her ethnic group, Shen visited households in different villages every day to teach Qiang embroidery skills and other handiwork. 

With an increase of women learning embroidery in her training school, more and more embroidery works appeared, which inspired Shen to create a sales platform for them. 

Thanks to her efforts over several years, she has turned her village into a stronghold of embroidery culture and experiences. 

So far, the village has trained over 3,000 female embroidery workers, several hundred of whom are from impoverished families. Every year, its embroidery workshop receives over 3 million orders from home and abroad. Their embroidery works were even shown at the UN. 

The female embroidery workers can also earn money from livestock and running homestay inns. They strike a good balance between family life and work. 

Nowadays, villagers regard Qiang embroidery as a good means for passing time. More women in the village decorate their clothes with Qiang embroidery and wear their distinctive attire to celebrate festivals. 

After raising enough fund in 2012, Shen established an industrial park featuring Qiang embroidery and tourism in the village.  

Last year, the Niufei Specialized Cooperative for Tourism Development was established, which brought work opportunities for 300 locals including those from six impoverished households. 

Meanwhile, the rice produced by this village through ecological means has been sold to many cities such as Shanghai and Beijing. 

Local people have seen a remarkable improvement in their lives. So far, the cooperative has generated an output of 17.8 million yuan. 

With Shen's help and encouragement, a woman named Chen Hongping from a nearby village renovated her house for tourism. Chen receives over 100 tourists with accommodation service during the tea picking festival each March. 

Tourists can experience embroidery and buy all kinds of local products such as homemade tea and plum wine at Chen's home. In this way, she has multiplied her income in recent years. 

Local officials have also constantly updated their management ideas. They often arrange for villagers to visit other provinces to learn how to develop rural tourism and invite designers to improve their homestay services.


Niufei  Village [] 

Shen Yanyan engages in embroidery. [] 

Shen Yanyan looks in the mirror. [] 

Boat-shaped Yunyun Shoes, a typical handiwork of Qiang embroidery [] 

Panda embroidery work []

Three women engage in embroidery together. []

Embroidery patterns are sewn to people's clothes [] 

A woman dressed in Qiang clothing [] 

A woman checks a local variety of plant. [] 


(Source: and edited by Women of China

(Opinions of the writer in this blog don't represent those of China Daily.)




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