Event: Living Threads — Celebrating Yunnan's Sani Culture

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We are proud to announce that on August 25, we will be hosting a free afternoon event celebrating Sani culture. The day will feature the premiere screening of a documentary produced and directed by CloudBridge - Media by Design, GoKunming's parent company. The short film, entitled Living Threads — Revitalizing indigenous embroidery in rural China, explores the history, modern day and future of this quintessential Sani tradition.

In addition to the screening, we'll host two brief lectures on Sani indigenous customs. Handicrafts from the Stone Forest will be on display and for sale, and the band Manhu (蛮虎) — arguably the most exciting rock band in the province — will take the stage for a performance. All of this will take place at the lovely Shicui Culture Center in the middle of Green Lake Park (翠湖公园).

Image credit: Adam Crase and Kung Fu Imaging
Image credit: Adam Crase and Kung Fu Imaging

The Sani people

The Sani people are officially classified as a sub-group of the Yi minority (彝族). They number around 100,000 in Yunnan, with scattered populations in Honghe Prefecture and Yiliang County just outside of Kunming. However, the vast majority of Sani live in and around the UNESCO World Heritage site, the Stone Forest (石林).

Today the Sani are most well-known for their music and style of dress. For the latter, embroidery plays an enormous part. This vital aspect of Sani culture has been handed down from generation to generation but is now — largely due to the trappings of the modern age — falling out of fashion among younger generations. However, efforts are underway by the Sani themselves, with the aid of grants from Beijing, to preserve, protect and kindle public interest in Sani embroidery.

Our event

The 25-minute documentary Living Threads will be shown on an outdoor screen twice throughout the afternoon. Utilizing on-the-ground interviews, the film explores where Sani embroidery came from and where it is headed through the stories and experiences of those most intimately associated with it.

China has named Sani embroidery a national 'Intangible Cultural Heritage', meaning the practice is recognized as a vital tradition in need of preservation. In the film we speak extensively with an inheritor of the custom named Bi Yueying (毕跃英). She is tasked with orally handing embroidery practices down to younger people, while also expressly involved in how to make Sani handicrafts more commercially viable without sacrificing authenticity.

On August 25, Ms Bi is scheduled to speak twice during the day's program about her preservation work. She will be accompanied by her son, Ang Gui (昂贵), who is closely involved with promoting Sani culture across China and to a wider international audience. Together they will discuss the challenges facing their work and explain encouraging developments such as recent events featuring Sani culture co-organized by UNESCO.

Event schedule

11am: Opening ceremony, event introduction

11:15am: Presentation on Sani embroidery by experts Bi Yueying and Ang Gui

11:30am: Screening of Living Threads — Revitalizing indigenous embroidery in rural China

Noon: Break for lunch, with food and drink specials at The Park Bar and Restaurant

2pm: Performance by Sani band Manhu

3:15pm: Presentation on Sani embroidery by experts Bi Yueying and Ang Gui

3:45pm: Screening of Living Threads — Revitalizing indigenous embroidery in rural China

4:15pm: Closing ceremony

Throughout the day, in addition to the documentary screenings, lectures and band performance, we have organized a small exhibit of exemplary Sani embroidery pieces. These will be augmented by a display of photos entered in the 2016 Stone Forest International Photography Contest. Many of these one-of-a-kind items will be on sale, as will handmade products created by Sani craftspeople.

The Park Bar and Restaurant, located inside the event venue, has graciously agreed to offer food and drink specials during the festivities. Come out and join us on August 25 for an afternoon celebrating the culture, music and artistry of the Sani people. We hope to see you there!

Top image: Adam Crase, Kung Fu Imaging

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Shicui Culture Center is a nice place to hold the event. almost like a beer garden. Hopefully Living Threads will bask in *Sani* sunshine next Saturday, although thunderstorm is the current forecast. GoK crew may want to prepare canopies just in case. Wishing the documentary & event a roaring success.

Looking forward to this event, rainor shine!

I'm not in Kunming (or in China) anymore but I love the embroidery art of Yunnan and I wonder if there is any way I could see this film? I would be happy to pay to watch it online, if that is an option. I own several embroidery paintings...the best one is from an "art factory" near Wenshan (so probably not Yi)

oops, it was near Weishan that I bought my art piece...not Wenshan.

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