Intangible Cultural Heritage Museum-Batik of the Miao

Intangible Cultural Heritage Museum

Batik of the Miao

by Live in Guizhou

Image Source: Eyesnews

For many people, batik, wax-resist dyeing of cloth, is merely a craft. But, for the ethnic Miao people, living in southwest China’s Guizhou Province, batik is an integral part of their ancient culture and history.

The Miao people, one of the most ancient nationalities in China, originated in the central plain areas along the Yellow River more than 5,000 years ago and began to master the batik fabric-making techniques during the early years of the Han Dynasty. The Miao people even have an old folk song describing the origin of batik, which they still sing today.

Among the Miao people, batik is seen as a woman’s craft and it has been passed down from mothers to daughters for generations. The Miao women made and created batik patterns and motifs to reflect their nature and life. Since the Miao people don’t have their own written language, those batik patterns have become an essential visual language that tells their cultural, religious and historical story to the outside world.

Under the influence of the Han people, the Miao women began to draw figurative and symbolic patterns such as flowers, fish, birds, insects and farm animals. Today, Miao batik fabrics are favorite souvenirs for both Chinese and overseas tourists in the country. In 2006, the technique of making the Miao people’s batik fabrics was inscribed on China’s first list of national intangible cultural.