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Introduction & Highlights

The ancient Chinese craft of bamboo weaving has been practiced in Yiliang County in Yunnan Province since the time of the Song Dynasty, which reigned in China during the years 960-1279.

Basket-weaving is a very individualized craft. Each village has its own specialty products, and each family has its own techniques, which are handed down from generation to generation.

The craftsmen must first find the stalks of bamboo that grow wild, and select pieces that are not too rough or too smooth to make them suitable for weaving. They must then cut them down and saw them into small pieces.

In a process call “daqing” they scrape the skin of the bamboo stalk to remove the outer husk layer and get to the part of the bamboo that has more desirable color and texture.

The first and most difficult step in becoming a master weaver is to learn to slice off the strip of bamboo properly. The cuts are made along the natural grain of the bamboo stalks. The process must be done with great dexterity and accuracy to slice the bamboo stalk into uniform strips of consistent thickness. Learning to master this skill takes years of diligent practice and much patience and discipline. Only when the pieces are cut into strips can the craftsman then begin the weaving process. That’s the point at which the real creativity and artistry come into play.

The weaving of a basket starts on the bottom, and weave three pieces together to build the sides of the basket. The craftsmen design their works to fit the needs and preferences of their markets. There are a great many uses for bamboo basket-weaving. The craftsmen are very innovative as they adapt their artistry to the markets they serve.

Bamboo basketry is used for a great variety of purposes, such as packaging for products such as fine teas or silvers. A creative craftsman finds ways to design products that will find uses in the marketplace. So the ancient craft constantly evolves as it changes to adapt to the changing world.

Where to Buy / Experience

Yiliang County in Kunming, the capital of Yunnan Province, is the center of expert bamboo weaving where the craft developed over centuries comes to its fruition. Each village has its own special kinds of bamboo weaving products.

Lvguangying Village makes threshing baskets. Zhoujiaying Village makes rice paddy baskets. Huixiang Village makes bamboo baskets for rice washing. Ma Street makes backpacks and Xiao Street makes sifting pans.

Main Origin

Yiliang County, Kunming City