The Li people, the native inhabitants of Hainan island, are proud of their traditions, and the minority group's traditional textile techniques were added to the UNESCO list of Intangible Cultural Heritage items in 2009.
Woven of fiber made from the fruit of kapok trees, Li brocade is one of the country's earliest known textiles. It is said that spinner Huang Daopo (1245-1330), known as the mother of Chinese textile technology, learned to weave from the Li people in Hainan and she is said to have improved the loom they used. She later introduced their handiwork to central China.
Now, the art of weaving Li brocade is being passed down from generation to generation. Buying authentic, hand woven Li brocades not only supports these artisans, but helps to ensure that the traditional weaving techniques of the Li minority people will continue to be taught to the next generation.
by Nicki Johnson