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Ethnic hamlet an example of revitalized village life
From:ChinaDaily  |  2022-07-20 06:46

Dressed in a traditional Chinese Miao ethnic costume, Iraqi student Murtadha Qays Kadhim sits at the loom for the first time and carefully stabs at the fabric with a needle.

In July, Kadhim and 11 other students from Central South University, in Central China's Hunan province, came to the village of Shibadong. Rural revitalization has brought rapid development to traditional ethnic hamlets in these mountainous regions.

Clothing is an important part of Miao ethnic culture. The Miao embroidery, a traditional skill passed down through the generations in the rural region of Xiangxi Tujia and Miao autonomous prefecture, has been included on the national intangible cultural heritage list.

Miao embroidery has delicate stitches and vibrant colors. However, for a long time, Miao embroidery products have existed as household items.

"The clothes are so nice-looking and fashionable. They should be made visible to the world," says Kadhim. The fingertip skills inherited by generations of ancestors have become a way for local people to acquire wealth.

With the help of the country's poverty alleviation programs, Shi Shunlian, 68, former Party chief of Shibadong village, realized the integrated process of Miao embroidery covering design, production, processing and sales. The production workshop she set up, which also serves as a training center, has created many jobs for women in the village.

According to Shi, the Miao embroidery products are no longer confined to traditional patterns and functions, but have gradually developed toward artistry and commercialization, such as handbags, earrings, bookmarks and fans.

At the home of villager Shi Basan, Nepali student Ghimire Prateek greets her using a phrase from the Miao language he had just learned. The house has refrigerators and other electrical appliances, while bacon and chilies hang on its beams.

Changes in Shi Basan's family are a prime example of how the villagers of Shibadong are enjoying a better life. Targeted poverty alleviation campaigns since 2013 have opened new doors for Shibadong.

Newly built country roads have linked villages nestled in the mountains, and highways have connected them to the outside world. The village's industries have been branded, tourists are coming in droves, and young people who left the area for work outside are returning.

From a conservative and poverty-stricken backwater to an open and prosperous Miao village, Shibadong gives inspiration to overseas students. "It is a good example for the whole country, and people in other countries can learn much from it," says Prateek.

Ten years ago, a bridge linking Xiangxi to neighboring cities opened to traffic. At the end of 2021, a new railway opened, from which it only takes eight hours to travel to Beijing from Fenghuang, a famed tourist destination in Xiangxi.

With facilitated transportation, local tourism is booming, and more people outside the region have access to Miao embroidery and culture.

"China is building modern bridges across the mountains to lift impoverished areas out of poverty. I want to apply the lessons I learned here to help improve my hometown," says Emami Ahmad Wali, a student from Afghanistan.