In Taiwan's early days as an agricultural society, bamboo weaving was both a major handicraft and a source of important tools. The items made were common and multitudinous, and what they lacked in aesthetic appeal they more than made up for in functionality. Today, Qingdong Community is making use of its local resources, including persimmon and pear branches as well as bamboo, to create items that are as appealing as they are useful.
A traditional Hakka settlement, Qingdong Community has invited master artisans and art teachers from nearby Donghua Elementary to help in the crafts development of their characteristic pear trees and bamboo. Through practical lessons and creative thinking, they have been able to begin developing a variety of elegant, useful products that both preserve their cultural heritage and showcase quality production and aesthetics. Thanks to intensive exchanges of craft skills, the people of Qingdong are learning to propel their industrial transformation and boost the standing in the market of their crafts while also imbuing their work with real cultural meaning.
The teachers have led groups of students into Hakka homes to help connect them with the traditional arts of bamboo weaving and persimmon dyeing. Local families teach them how past generations made use of the arts, helping infuse an old-fashioned style which is so crucial to the renewed development of these crafts. They emphasize the tough-yet-flexible nature of bamboo and encourage a seamless blending of the two arts to create multifunctional, practical objects that also help bridge the gap between art and life.
The bamboo weaving and persimmon dyeing of Qingdong Community are deeply rooted in Hakka culture, and by combining the two, they have been able to create crafts that are even more deeply Hakka and thoroughly local. And with their dyed fabrics making use of pear branches, they add another level of complementarity to the intersection of creation and agriculture. In this way, they are able to simultaneously produce distinctively Hakka cloth and promote the agricultural products of Qingdong, boosting both the bamboo and pear sides of their community development and spurring a return to the historical roots of the community.
In addition, in order to make more effective use of their resources, the community has begun mixing both pear and persimmon branches and leaves into the dye before carrying out the tying, immersing, dyeing, steaming, drying, smoothing, and milling of the cloth. This process lets the plant materials mingle with the cloth as it dyes, making each piece of cloth vibrant and unique.
The people of Qingdong Community now specialize in creating practical household items with natural materials and down-home charm. They make everything from pencil cases and book covers to coin purses, business card holders, and even stuffed toys. This wide range of items has sparked a new creative vigor in the community and promises to unleash untold productivity and value.