The Yi minority in the long course of the Chinese history has created a brilliant culture. The Yi traditional costumes are not only the material and spiritual wealth, but also an important part of the Yi ethnic culture.
Ms Ma Guohua, a Yi ethnic member living in Faga Village of Liushao Town of Xundian County, got started to learn the traditional techniques for making Yi ethnic costumes since she was young and is granted with a Yunnan provincial-level certificate as a traditional technique inheritor. She graduated from Kunming Normal School for Preschool Teachers, and was once a teacher.
As the social development progressed and the livelihood improved, many young people were unwilling to learn the techniques and left home to work outside because the traditional techniques require more time and energy-most importantly the income was very small. As a result, the excellent traditional technique was in the danger of disappearing.
Another problem is that there had been no specific measures to keep the traditional technique going though Faga Village is a Yi traditional eco culture protection zone.
Out of the love for the traditional techniques for making Yi ethnic costumes, Ms Ma quit her job as a teacher and started the way to inherit the techniques.
In December 2014, Ms Ma established her company the major purpose of which is to research, inherit and demonstrate the Yi ethnic traditional costume culture. At the same time, the company also produces and sells materials and products for Yi traditional costumes. However, most of the income is in turn used to research, inherit and demonstrate the Yi ethnic traditional costume culture.
According to Ms Ma, the Yi people in Faga Village belongs to the White Yi ethnic branch who are good at singing and dancing. When they celebrate the Liqiu Festival in the early Autumn, the villagers always dress themselves in the Yi costumes to gather at the venue to enjoy bull fighting, antiphonal singing and dancing etc. Ms Ma also said that the Yi ethnic costumes vary according to many factors which include the places they live, gender and age, and many occasions which include wedding, funeral, war, and religious ceremonies etc. Different costumes of different Yi ethnic branches are unique symbols carrying the unique cultural connotations.
Ms Ma's Company focuses on producing the distinctive Yi ethnic costumes of the White Yi people in and around Faga Village. The main materials are linen and wool, and the cloths are totally handmade. The company has now a dozen masters for the traditional techniques for making Yi ethnic costumes, so it can in a better way research, inherit and demonstrate the Culture.
Next, Ms Ma plans to establish a centre for researching the Yi ethnic traditional culture, a training centre for Yi ethnic costumes, a demonstration centre for Yi ethnic costume culture, and a pilot site for handmade Yi ethnic costumes. She firmly believes that her efforts can improve the protection of Faga Yi ethnic traditional eco culture and keep the endangered traditional techniques going forwards.