Dingxi Village, in Yunlin County’s Huwei Township, is keeping Taiwan’s silk-wrapping ornamental tradition alive by incorporating modern symbols and using the same techniques to create agricultural-themed accessories like corn, flowers, and radishes to be used as simple adornments and add a little color to everyday life. The hope is that doing so will bring economic benefits to their rural community while also creating a thriving cultural industry.
In the past, silk-wrapped floral accessories played an important role in marriage ceremonies, as each flower was a complex, time-consuming project, demanding great attention and patience from their makers. Delicate and elegant, the making of silk-wrapped accessories is an exceptionally special form of handicraft.
In 1993, a local woman by the name of Guo Li-hua (郭麗花) began using hand-made silk-wrapped flowers to decorate packets of noodles sold to wedding banquets. However, the process was soon mechanized, and mass-produced plastic replicas replaced the time-consuming, hand-made silk ones.
To help revive and pass on this beautiful traditional art to residents, the community began holding basic courses in making silk-wrapped ornaments, teaching the necessary skills and techniques, encouraging an interest in the art, and helping save it from imminent disappearance.
While the primary goal of these efforts was to revive and pass on the art form, the silk-wrapped accessories became a big draw for tourists who were delighted to find ornamental versions of seasonal produce, which helped spur on the tourism industry in the community. Through the promotion of community handicrafts and the nurture of distinctive local culture, more and more visitors have been able to discover the skills and story of this traditional art.
The Dingxi Community Development Association has, at the same time, focused its efforts on adapting and modernizing the silk-wrapping tradition, once an ancient symbol of the joy of marriage in rural communities. As times changed and so did tastes, new brides gradually turned to modern hair accessories, leaving silk-wrapped flowers to fade into the past as those who could craft them became ever fewer in number.
To help make this traditional art more palatable to modern-day consumers, the women of the community began working on designs beyond just those used for weddings. Creating fashionable accessories like brooches, necklaces, bracelets, and earrings, these women transformed the traditional stereotypes of silk-wrapped flowers, and today their works include both those with practical use and those with real value as artistic collectibles.
Through years of hard work, Dingxi Village has brought this almost-lost art back to vibrant life, and through the transformative power of cultural creativity restored the community’s soft power. In the future, they hope to continue their work of combining culture and industry to create accessories that are both beautiful and a source of financial benefit to the community as they give silk-wrapped accessories a vivid new look.