Quilts of Southwest China: Chinese Quilts as Cultural Heritage


Bai Jia Bei ("one hundred families quilt"), made by a Mrs. Ma of Gansu Province, China, c. 1980, IQSCM 2013.021.0001

In some Chinese ethnic minority communities, appliquéd and patchwork quilts are made as special covers for the wedding bed. In other communities, a bedcover or items of clothing are made for a new child out of pieces of fabric contributed by friends and family—figuratively representing the notion that it takes a village to raise the child. These textiles are sometimes called bai jia bei (百家被), or “one hundred families” bedcovers and bai jia yi (百家衣) or “one hundred families” clothes.

In most communities, the making of these special bedcovers has diminished and may be disappearing as commercially manufactured textiles and clothing become more available. As fewer individuals construct and use these handmade textiles, the knowledge and skills needed to make them is also being lost. However, with the international, national, and regional promotion of intangible and tangible cultural heritage, scholars, cultural practitioners, and local artists are starting to make an effort to study and preserve these textiles and the skills used in making them.

在中国的一些少数民族地区, 拼布和贴布形式的被面被用于新婚夫妇的婚床上。在其他一些地区, 家人及其朋友会捐献布条给新生儿缝制百家被或百家衣, 代表整个村落一起养育小孩。

由于商业生产的衣物和其他纺织品的盛行, 很多地方已经不做或者很少做这种特殊的被面了。越来越少人制作和使用手工缝制的被面, 相关的知识和技艺也面临着消失的困境。随着国际、国家和地区层面上对非物质文化遗产和物质文化遗产的重视和宣传, 学者、文化工作者和当地手工艺人开始致力于研究和保护拼布及拼布工艺。

Next: Ethnic Minority Groups