Zhoucheng Town

Zhoucheng is lying 30km north near Butterfly Spring, Dali. It has earned the nickname 'the Hometown to Tie-dyeing'. The delicate and colorful dyeing process appeals to many travelers at both home and abroad.

Tie-dyeing is the traditional folk art of the Bai ethic minority. It can be dated back to 1,000 years ago. At the very beginning, the Bai make tie-dyeing in their own houses, and gradually home-based workshops appeared, becoming so common that almost every family had one. The material originally used was pure white cotton cloth with blue dye, but today the choices in both color and design are richer and more varied than before - greens, reds, and browns have been introduced in addition to the traditional blue. The designs are simple, inferring an idyllic pastoral life, and are made with dye that will never fade. However, even though the designs are simple, the process is anything but, as procedures are becoming more and more complicated with increased demand. Watching how the Bai people make their tie-dyed pieces is absolutely a must-see.

The first step involves drawing the designs on a piece of cloth. Unlike other tie-dyeing designs that choose to feature abstract patterns, the Bai like to incorporate flowers, animals and plants such as bees, butterflies, bamboos and lilies. The second step is to tie the cloth with thread - not too tightly and not too loosely. Next, it involves dyeing the cloth with dye made from a Chinese medicine called Banlangen. The fragrance is supposed to be good for both skin and health. Last, the threads must be removed and the cloth hung out to dry.

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