Wax-dyeing Craft of Bouyei Ethnic Group

Famous Wax-dyeing Craft

The wax-dyeing craft of the Buyi people has been famous for a long time. Even in Song Dynasty, records had it that wax-dyeing cloth was produced in Huishui, Guizhou province. In the historical book in Qing Dynasty, the so-called “cyanine glower cloth” was indeed wax-dyed cloth. From 12 or 13 years old, Buyi ladies will learn from their mothers the wax-dyeing craft. First, the sweet wax is heated into liquid, and then they will dip into the liquid with bronze triangle-shaped wax knives and carefully paint all kinds of beautiful and vivid pictures on white self-made cloth. After that, the cloth will be immersed in the van full of blue dyestuff. At last, the dyed cloth will be thrown in the cauldron and the sweet wax will be boiled off. Then the cloth will also be washed several times in river. When it is finally dried, the wax-dyed craftwork with special features is produced.

 The finished wax-dyed cloth has rich and simple patterns and the drawings are vigorous and luxurious. The pattern holds special veins (also called little waves), the artistic features of which the machines are not to compete with.

The style of wax-dyeing craft vary from place to place: some products favor the pattern of flowers, birds, insects and fishes with bold designs and vivid images; some are featured with careful structure and fine details; some get the inspiration from dragon-claw flowers with bold and bright color¡­ The wax-dyeing craft has not only refined people’s life, but also enriched the style of women’s garments both domestic and abroad.

During the recent 20 years, several dyeing factories have been established with specialized art designers creating and drafting new pictures. Various kinds of people and animal images have appeared and colors are used in a more diversified manner.

The wax-dyed cloth is mostly used for making women’s shawl, gowns, aprons and bed covers, portieres, curtains and so on. Some with high artistic features and intricate patterns will also be used as art hangings to decorate sitting rooms and hotels. Some Buyi women also knit embroidery on the wax-dyed gowns, which make them more charming. 

Besides wax-dying craft, the traditional fold crafts of the Buyi people also include tie-dyeing, brocade, embroidery, woodcarving, sculpture and bamboo-weaving etc.