Zhoucheng: Zha-ran Tie-dye


Zoucheng, north of Dali in Yunnan, is home to a thriving community of artisans practising the art of zha-ran, a type of tie-dye. I noticed many similarities between zha-ran and the stitch-resist types of Japanese shibori I had learned in Kyoto. However, the small butterfly motif on the headscarves worn by the women of Zoucheng appears to be exclusive to the Yunnanese.

           The relatively heavy cotton used in Zoucheng lends itself to producing the lovely mid-blue “shadows” radiating out from the resisted areas that I so enjoy This woman sat unpicking her zha-ran while waiting for customers at her stall at the village fruit & vegetable market.

I had come to this village with the express purpose of learning how they created the butterfly pattern that decorates the women’s head-scarves. At this market, I eventually found a young woman willing to act as our guide and take us to a family workshop where I could learn.

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I have posted a video and step-by-step photos of the method at Zha-ran Butterfly Technique

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