Craftsmanship of Nanjing Yunjin brocade
Inscribed in 2009 (4.COM) on the Representative List of the Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity
In the Chinese tradition of weaving Nanjing Yunjin brocade, two craftspeople operate the upper and lower parts of a large, complicated loom to produce textiles incorporating fine materials such as silk, gold and peacock feather yarn. The technique was once used to produce royal garments such as the dragon robe and crown costume; today, it is still used to make high-end attire and souvenirs. Preserved primarily in Jiangsu province in eastern China, the method comprises more than a hundred procedures, including manufacturing looms, drafting patterns, the creation of jacquard cards for programming weaving patterns, dressing the loom and the many stages of weaving itself. As they ‘pass the warp’ and ‘split the weft’, the weavers sing mnemonic ballads that remind them of the techniques they employ and enhance the cooperative, artistic atmosphere at the loom. The workers view their craft as part of a historical mission since, in addition to creating fabrics for contemporary use, yunjin is used to replicate ancient silk fabrics for researchers and museums. Named for the cloud-like splendour of the fabrics, yunjin remains popular throughout the country.