Intangible Cultural Heritage Museum-Kala Birdcages

Intangible Cultural Heritage Museum

Kala Birdcages

by Live in Guizhou

Image Source: Eyesnews

Kala birdcages are named after Kala Village in Danzhai County, where “Kala” means “good” in the Miao language. In 2007, Kala Village was named “Home of Birdcage Weaving Art” by the Cultural Department of Guizhou Province. The villagers of Kala are renowned for their birdcage weaving skills, which have a long history and have led to a culture and industry centered around birdcages. In 2009, the birdcage-making skills of Kala Village were declared an intangible cultural heritage by the People’s Government of Guizhou Province.

Kala birdcages typically use two types of bamboo: Phyllostachys pubescens, which is stronger and used for the cage frame, and Phyllostachys heteroclada, which is more flexible and used for the cage wires. The birdcages are a product of both strength and flexibility, with the production process involving a division of labor between men and women—men handle the physically demanding tasks like splitting bamboo and making cage hoops, while women excel at the detailed work of drilling holes and weaving.

The craft of making Kala birdcages is complex, involving over a dozen steps such as cutting bamboo, splitting bamboo, dehumidifying, shaping, weaving, and coloring. A finished Kala birdcage is characterized by its durability, and resistance to cracking and deformation. Some cages, emphasizing aesthetic value, incorporate various arts such as engraving, carving, wax dyeing, embroidery, calligraphy, and painting, making them exquisite art treasures.