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Woollen Bangdian and Qiadian Weaving Skills

Woollen Bangdian and Qiadian Weaving Skills

The wool fabric weaving skills of the Tibetan nationals have a long history. Among all the fabrics made by these skills, aprons and rugs are the most well-known. Wool fabric aprons frequently used by the Tibetan people are called “bangdian” in Tibetan language, and they have functions of decoration, cold resistance, among others. The Jiedexiu Town of Gongga County in Shannan District of Tibet Autonomous Region is the major producing area of Tibetan aprons, and it is consequently called the “home of bangdian.” The production of wool fabrics in the Jiedexiu Town has a history of more than a thousand years, and the production of aprons have a history of some five to six hundred years. In history, there were many stores, and every household owned a set or multiple sets of weaving machines. Weaved pulu (referring to wool fabrics in Tibetan language) were offered as tributes in many dynasties. Legend has it that the pulu costume worn by Princess Wencheng was produced in this town. After generations of inheritance and improvement, the wool fabrics of Jiedexiu Town achieved significant development in variety, pattern, color and skill. Today, there are around 780 households, 2,200 residents in total in this town. Nearly every household produces woolen aprons, and the products not only are famous within China but are also exported to different countries including India, Nepal, Bhutan, and Western European countries.

The Gyangze County in Xigaze District is well-known as the home of rugs (called “qiadian” by Tibetans) in the Tibet Autonomous Region. The Gyangze rugs, Turkey rugs, and Persia rugs are regarded as the three most famous rugs in the world.

As early as in the 11th century A.D., there was a handcraft named “wangdanzhongsi” (namely “qiadian”) in the area along the middle reaches of Nyang Qu River (an area around today’s Bailang County). As this area had long been the traditional production area of Tibetan rugs, the wool fabric weaving skills gained remarkable development and a series of patterns were formed. Afterwards, Gyangze people made continuous improvement and innovations on the traditional “qiadian” handicraft skills, and gradually developed distinctive Gyangze rugs. During the period of the Republic of China, British merchants set up small plants and technical schools in Gyangze, and their products were exported to Europe.

The Gyangze “qiadian” mirrors the history of development of Tibetan weaving skills over more than a thousand years. With unique weaving skills, the wool fabrics have excellent patterns, thread spinning, dyeing, weaving, cutting, etc., and are characterized by bright and harmonious color and soft rug surface, thus possessing high artistic value.