A Tradition of Indigo Dyeing

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Even in this era of fast fashion, many Dong women still devote countless hours to making the dark, glossy cloth. The fabric must be woven, wrung, scrubbed and pounded before it can be used to create traditional Dong cotton garments — dark navy costumes with colorful flower trim for the women and plain indigo for the men.

“For a Dong family, having a loom is just as important as having a cow,” said Lai Lei, the founder of a weaving and dyeing co-op in a nearby village. “As children, we grow up listening to the sound of the loom.”

Hoping to save Dali’s folk traditions, provincial officials in 2011 invited in the Global Heritage Fund, a preservation organization based in California.

The Global Heritage Fund has begun working with Atlas Studio, a Beijing-based design studio, to set up a weaving and dyeing co-op in Dali. The aim is twofold: to create opportunities to work closer to home and to persuade young Dong women to learn their traditions.

Link to the original article with images is via the NY Times site. A link to the text only PDF is below that. Enjoy!