"One life, one passion, one family"

"One life, one passion, one family"

Heart: The Entrepreneur

12 years since setting foot in Danzhai County, Guizhou province, serial entrepreneur Manli Ning (宁曼丽)has not only turned her own fate around coming out of the 2008 financial crisis, she has since empowered up to 200 women from Qiandongnan Miao and Dong Autonomous Prefecture, and enhanced their overall socio-economic status.

Miao batik or la ran (蜡染) is a wax-resist dyeing technique that has been around since the Qin and Han dynasties. Although this craft has been added to the National Intangible Cultural Heritage list, it remained largely a local tradition at that time and is only passed on from generation to generation - as Miao girls all learned batik techniques from their moms starting at the age of eight or nine.

Enthralled and humbled by this ancient craft, Ning shared her vision with these women and only after repeated, on-foot visits to the villages, was she able to convince 6 Miao painters to walk out of the mountains with her.

Now with their unique philosophy and team composition of “batik painters + designer + entrepreneur”, Ninghang Batik has grown to a family of 50 resident painters and has taken to the world stage, unveiling their batik beauty at the London International Fashion Week in 2020.

Body: The Batik Painter

Miao, mountain-dwelling peoples of China, are a group of linguistically-related peoples living in Southern China and Southeast Asia, and one of the 56 ethnic groups officially recognized by the Chinese government.

The majority of Miao people in China reside in Guizhou and because of the geographical landscape of the province, they’re largely disconnected from the outside world and few are properly educated. To this day, their society is typically an agrarian one so while the men were responsible for the farming, all girls and women were expected to master the art of batik and textile making - and since they do not have their own written language, the Miao women have had a large role to play in documenting their people’s story, history and emotions through their textile arts.

Moms have the responsibility to pass on this ancient craft to their daughters, and since the age of 8 or 9, batik painting often accompanies these women for a lifetime and all are seemingly “born artists” and storytellers, who draw inspiration from all aspects of natural life!

Soul: The Designer

Cheng Hao (成昊), a 42-year-old fashion designer from Harbin, whose collections have been shown at the China International Fashion Week, the Shanghai International Fashion Week, and the Chengdu-New York International Fashion Week yearly.

Cheng was inspired by his mother and took up tailoring at the age of 17, and by happenstance, he was exposed to the “blue and white” world of batik, and has since then worked with this community of talented women to help them realize their dreams and aspirations - and grant them wings to share their artistry and craftsmanship with the bigger world out there.

In his heartfelt words, “batik is not only a skill, but also a sentiment and spirit”, you can see that reflected and augmented with each of his creations.
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