Kam Women Artisans of China: Dawn of the Butterflies
Deep in the fir woods of southwestern China, in a village called Dimen, live several women who are masters of many cultural arts. Following the centuries-old lifestyle of their ancestors, they are the living repositories of their civilization. They carry the unwritten history and wisdom of the Kam people in their songs, weave cloth that is smooth and strong, and dye fabric to the richest indigo blue. They devote every free moment to embroidering sleeves, hems, hats, and purses in the bright colors of the natural setting that surrounds the village. Through everyday activities, lessons in craft, folk stories and songs, the women weave a patchwork of Kam culture and reveal its hidden treasures in fibers, textiles, papermaking as well as ethnography, anthropology, and Sinology. This book presents an opportunity to learn from the past long lost in Western tradition, explore contemporary rural life in China, and experience ancient culture metamorphosing under the pressure of technology.
Marie Anna Lee is an Associate Professor of Art at the University of the Pacific in California, USA. She has worked on the cultural preservation of Kam indigenous heritage since 2007, and received the 2013 and 2014 SEED (Social Environmental Economic Design) Award honorable mention for excellence in public interest design for her work in Dimen. As part of the Kam delegation from Dimen, Lee presented at the Smithsonian Folklife Festival in Washington, DC, in 2014. She taught at the Public Interest Design Institute in Denver in 2013 and presented her research at numerous national and international conferences, and has co-authored multiple articles in global monetary history. She has also exhibited her art in the USA, China, and the Czech Republic. Lee holds a BFA and an MFA in Graphic Design from Colorado State University, USA, and a BA in Advertising from Michigan State University, USA.
"I found that the volume very much enhanced my understanding of the Kam/Dong and the crafts which were so much part of their everyday life. [...] Lee definitely does justice to her teachers showcasing their wide range of technical and life skills all wrapped up in their zest for life supported by and illustrating the culture from which they come. So much has and is changing in the za’s lifetimes. Documenting these indomitable ladies is as important as detailing the skills of which they are such skilled exponents."
Pamela A. Cross tribaltextiles.info, 22.03.2018
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