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September 20, 2023  People's Daily Online  

Rattan Weaving Brings Prosperity to People in Hanzhong, NW China's Shaanxi

Story;Innovative Poverty Alleviation Initiative;National Intangible Cultural Heritages Rattan Weaving;Hanzhong City

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Rattan weaving, a traditional craft with a history of more than 1,000 years in Hanzhong city in northwest China's Shaanxi Province, has generated wealth for local people. The craft was inscribed on the list of national intangible cultural heritages in 2021.

Chen Liangshun is a provincial-level inheritor of rattan weaving in the city. Born into a family that has been rattan weaving for generations in Shuijing village, Nanzheng district of the city, he learned rattan weaving techniques from his father in 1986 when he was 15. Since then, he has been committed to inheriting and developing the intangible cultural heritage.

Chen Liangshun has actively developed new rattan woven products by drawing inspiration from rattan waving techniques and patterns in other provinces such as Guangdong, Yunnan and Sichuan. Today, over 300 types of rattan woven products are on display at an exhibition hall of his company in Shuijing village.

"Weaving a rattan product is very complex, as it involves over 20 steps. There are more than 100 weaving methods and patterns," he said.

Chen Liangshun has built a base for the inheritance of rattan weaving offering training courses on the intangible cultural heritage. He has also introduced rattan weaving to schools and invited teachers and students from several universities and colleges, including the Xi'an Academy of Fine Arts and Shaanxi University of Technology, to help bring about the innovative development of the craft. In addition, he has attended exhibitions and cultural exchange activities to promote knowledge of rattan weaving and let more people learn its techniques.

"Now we can sell rattan woven products through channels including e-commerce platforms, livestreaming shows, and short videos," Chen Liangshun said, adding that rattan weaving has become a major industry.

"Making rattan weaving in Hanzhong popular so that it can better bring wealth to local people has always been my aspiration," said Chen Liangshun. In 2007, he founded a rattan weaving cooperative and a company, and later established a rattan planting base. The cooperative provides raw materials for families involved in rattan weaving, sends technicians to instruct them, and then purchases rattan woven products from these families.

In 2016, Chen Lingkai, Chen Liangshun's son, began to sell rattan woven products online while he was a sophomore. That year, the turnover of the college student's online store exceeded 1 million yuan (about $137,646).

Two years later, Chen Lingkai returned to his hometown to set up an e-commerce business after graduating from college. Today, he has opened 10 stores on several online platforms.

Rattan woven products from Hanzhong are now sold to over 10 countries and regions, with online sales exceeding 33 million yuan.

Currently, Chen Liangshun's company has 78 employees. The company adopts a business model that features cooperation among companies, cooperatives, planting bases, farmers, and e-commerce platforms, directly helping over 1,200 farming households engage in the weaving industry.

While focusing on rattan weaving, the company has also promoted other traditional handicrafts such as bamboo weaving and straw weaving. At the same time as inheriting intangible cultural heritages, the company has driven employment and increased villagers' incomes, giving a new boost to rural revitalization.

Today, the annual output of rattan woven products in Nanzheng district surpasses 180,000 pieces, with the annual sales volume exceeding 50 million yuan on average.

Guan Xingli is a 57-year-old woman in a village of Nanzheng district. "It's difficult for elderly people to find jobs outside the village. With my 30 years' experience, I can earn money through rattan weaving, do farm work, and take care of my family members," said Guan.

"I can choose when and where to weave. I can work in the workshop or use raw materials provided by the company to weave at home. And I can earn over 2,000 yuan per month," Guan said, adding that there are many other rattan weavers like her.

Another rattan weaving company in Shuijing village now has 35 full-time employees, including 23 disabled ones. The average annual output value of the company's products exceeds 10 million yuan.

"Rattan weaving has changed my fate and enabled more people to live better lives," said the company's founder Xu Dezhong, who is a disabled inheritor of rattan weaving.


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