Thursday, July 9, 2015

Mix it Up! Hakka + Kawaii

As some of you may know, Kawaii.i is running a Kawaii Leader contest with the theme "MIX-it-up Kawaii."  I entered, but that is not my reason for posting this time!  You can still vote for my entry here if you'd like (you must be a fan), but I would prefer you read this post first to understand why my entry is a "mix it up" rather than just Lolita fashion.

Most of the winners for the larger prizes will be chosen by the Kawaii.i committee rather than user vote anyway ;)

This is the photo I submitted:

Hm, just looks like some Lolita fashion, right?  But my focus here is on the headdress, which is done in a traditional 客家/Hakka style called 纏花/ChanHua, which means "wrapping flower."  We learned about this in my Chinese Clothing History class and I wanted to give it a go when I made this outfit!  So, what makes ChanHua different from traditional hair chopsticks or embroidery?

Well, it began because the Hakka people were not quite so wealthy as to be able to do traditional embroidery or metalwork.  So they cut out cardboard shapes and wrapped silk thread around and around to create shining crescents on a wire base that could then be folded into all sorts of shapes!

A basic flower
Some could get incredibly complex!
Different shapes and patterns emerged and the art is still practiced today, though not as frequently.  I found a recent piece (I believe it' from the Hakka channel on TV) introducing a Hakka woman who began to learn the art in her 20's.  You can see the skill it takes to make such intricate art!

OK, in comparison my work is abysmal, but it was fun to try!!!  I actually also cheated and used double-side tape to help my thread stay in place... I'm not even adept enough to cut the card shape properly, so the threads would slip!!!

I personally really admire handicrafts such as this!  The time and tradition behind cultures have such a great history.  Tribal peoples are vanishing all over the world, but I hope their art forms live on eternally!

By the way, I can subtitle the video on if anybody is interested in what is being said.  I wanted to share the making process, and they just talk a bit about why the woman chose to learn the art really.

I'm not Hakka myself, but it was great to give this a try!