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Ethnic Dai women carry on tradition of hand sewing garments

(Xinhua)    13:49, March 12, 2019

KUNMING, March 11 (Xinhua) -- Mi Jinkang, 57, was proud to show her stitchwork to a group of political party officials from several Asian countries on a recent trip to her village.

Mi grew up in the Manyuan village of Xishuangbanna Dai Autonomous Prefecture in southwest China's Yunnan Province. Born an ethnic Dai, she has learned to make folk costumes since she was very young.

"Traditionally every Dai girl must learn to sew her own dress. As more girls are attending schools now, many don't have time to learn the craft," Mi said.

As the government launched projects to protect ethnic culture and customs, the tradition is coming back, Mi said. The Xishuangbanna prefecture established a culture and tourism bureau in February this year to further promote the development of the Dai culture and its integration with tourism.

"We all wear traditional Dai clothes on important occasions such as the Water-Splashing Festival. The dresses are beautiful, and they are very practical," she said.

Mi and her husband used to cut rubber and grow rice for a living. The local government has scaled back rubber farming and committed the local development to more sustainable ways of living, said Yan Wenbing, head of the village.

"We are prioritizing the Dai clothes industry and the planting of organic mangoes," Yan said.

Manyuan has been hailed as a successful model of maintaining natural sceneries, preserving tradition and investing great efforts in the environment.

In front of the foreign visitors, Mi presented a hand-sewn sachet to Aizaz Asif, deputy secretary general of the Pakistan Movement for Justice.

Aizaz Asif was among some 20 officials from Pakistan, Bangladesh and Nepal to visit Yunnan, at the invitation of the Communist Party of China, for learning and exchanging experiences on the development of ethnic regions.

Bordered by Myanmar, Vietnam and Laos, Yunnan boasts dozens of ethnicities with diverse cultures.

After visiting the Manyuan village, home to 436 people, Chandra Prakash Mainali, general secretary of the Communist Party of Nepal (Unified Marxist-Leninist), said he was impressed by ethnic unity in China, as well as rapid economic and social development in areas inhabited by ethnic groups.

For Mi, the good thing is that young women in the village are learning the craft from elderly women. "Young people are quite innovative. I hope more people will come and see our craft," said Mi.

(For the latest China news, Please follow People's Daily on Twitter and Facebook)(Web editor: Xian Jiangnan, Bianji)

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