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Young passion poured into indigo dye

( chinadaily.com.cn )

Updated: 2017-09-22

In the southwest of Liping county in Guizhou province, young women living in the Zhaoxing Dong village endeavor to inherit and promote the unique indigo dyeing skills of their forebears.

Lu Yongmei, born in the village in 1985, is just one daughter of more than 1,000 households of the Dong ethnic group. In 2015, she founded a cooperative to gather inheritors of the thousands of years old technique and attract the attention of more young people to keep indigo dyeing alive.

Young passion poured into indigo dye

Lu Yongmei displays products made by her cooperative in Zhaoxing Dong village. [Photo/news.cri.cn]

Indigo dye is produced by soaking locally grown leaves to extract a substance that is then fermented to become a herb dye for cloth. The dyes seep into cloth and leave different shades of indigo behind.

"I have the natural passion for indigo dyeing," Lu said. "My grandparents ran a dye house and I remember when people were busy working among the big dye vats in my childhood."

Lu used to be a kindergarten teacher until she visited a neighboring village and saw some 60 of 70 children there left behind because their parents had to work in bigger cities to earn a living.

"I thought the children would be taken good care of if their parents work near home," Lu said.

With the passion for inheriting indigo dye and the wish to lure back more villagers for their children, Lu opened her cooperative and since then has hired several local women.

Young passion poured into indigo dye

Local women make embroidery in Liping county, Guizhou province. [Photo provided to chinadaily.com.cn]

Her cooperative produces hats, clothes and scarves featuring Dong elements and has received five patents on dye mixture and nine patents on designs.

Women are trained to not only make better handicrafts but also for online business and marketing.

"Young people are the main force to take over the ancient technique," Lu said. "They will be better motivated if they know more about the market supply and demand."

To expand the market, Lu has opened online shops. The turnover last year reached up to 2.9 million yuan ($440,000) and this year is expected to see doubled business volume.

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