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Liu Dapao and his indigo-dyed cloth (6)

By Huang Beibei (People's Daily Online)

15:21, July 06, 2012

Liu Dapao's cat quietly watches the whole interview. (Huang Beibei/ People's Daily Online)

Beijing, July 6 (people's Daily Online)-His works is an example of valuable heritage of folk culture, wisdom and talent of Chinese laborers.

Liu Dapao (Liu Gongxin), inheritor and master of indigo cloth dyeing skills live in Fenghuang Town in Central China's Hunan Province.

Indigo-dyed cloth is one of the oldest manual printing and dyeing textiles in our country. It is characterized by a distinctive artistic style. People in Xiangxi of Hunan province put their native culture into their indigo-dyed cloth patterns, giving them unique aesthetic characteristics.

The history of dyeing with Polygomum tinctorium lour by the folk can be traced back to the Spring and Autumn and Warring States periods of China and then the indigo-based skills were developed into the blue dyeing skills more than one thousand years ago. After Yuan and Ming dynasties, there are weaving women in every Nantong household, winning the region the reputation of "hometown of weaving and indigo blue cloth".

Indigo cloth dyeing and finishing skills are still alive today. Daily items like bedcovers, cloth-wrappers and headscarves are produced by manual spinning, weaving and dyeing. Most of the decorating designs are the images of flowers and animals and sometimes simple geometric figures can also be found. With the features of endurance against dirt and wear, solidness and long service life and propitious designs, indigo cloth is very popular among the public and keeps alive and attractive all the time, and becomes one of the most typical traditional handcrafts.

However, people engaged in indigo cloth dyeing and finishing are decreasing and there are very limited professional operators to continue this handcraft skill. Some indigo blue cloth has been produced automatically or semi-automatically and the traditional craftsmanship is being changed.

Liu Dapao said he is willing to teach anyone who is interested in the skill. "Craftsmanship needs to open doors," he noted.

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