Aug. 17, 2018 -- Elderly people examine various embroidery products in Xihe, Gansu province. LYU HONG/FOR CHINA DAILY
Aug. 17, 2018 -- Qiqiao Festival, a Chinese version of Valentine's Day, is enticing more women in Xihe county, Gansu province, to work on festival handicrafts to help promote economic development.
Listed in the first batch of State-level intangible cultural heritage in 2008, the festival, also known as Qixi Festival, features song and dance performances highlighting delicate costumes with fine embroidery.
It falls on the seventh day of the seventh month of the lunar calendar.
Authorities in Xihe county have put more emphasis on including traditions in Qiqiao Festival since 2013, with handicrafts becoming a popular choice for residents, especially women in Xihe, to make a living while enriching the ancient art form.
Zhang Qin, a 42-year-old from the county's Daliu village, founded her own embroidery workshop with the help of the county's women's federation in 2014.
"Embroidery is the specialty of Xihe, and is also a typical handicraft for the Qiqiao Festival," she said.
"I used to help train women living in poverty with embroidery skills at home, but some of their homes were too far away from mine, so I built a workshop in my vacant room to give them a better training environment."
She said the workshop has 179 members, about 100 of whom live in poverty.
"Women with their families in financial difficulty are welcomed," she said. "I taught them to make crafts, such as pillows with embroidery, once a week for free. And I gave them 20 to 100 yuan ($3 to 15) for each item they made."
More than 300,000 yuan was earned, with nearly 200,000 items sold in 2017 both online and in shops.
Liu Fanglian, chairwoman of Xihe's women's federation, said: "Production of handicrafts is encouraged in Xihe. It's a good way for housewives to make extra money to help their families out of poverty."
She said that nearly 1,500 women were involved in handicraft production, and more than 40 workshops have been established.
"We also organize free lectures to teach women knitting and embroidery," she said. "About 1,200 women have finished training courses since the beginning of 2017, and we plan to train another 600 with an investment of 18,000 yuan later this year."
During Qiqiao Festival, unmarried females in Xihe county sing and dance for blessings to celebrate the festival, which can be traced back 1,800 years.
By: Ma Jingna in Lanzhou and Cheng Si