Feature: Adventure of a silver bracelet

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail Xinhua, December 02, 2021
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by Xinhua writer Zheng Minghong

GUIYANG, Dec. 2 (Xinhua) -- A silver bracelet has made its way across China after traveling from a Miao ethnic town in the southwestern province of Guizhou to northernmost Inner Mongolia.

The bracelet came from the "silver street" of Kaili city. There are nearly 100 silversmith shops along the street. Ethnic silver ornaments produced there, such as netsukes, necklaces and bracelets, are popular among tourists.

Zhang Yongfu, a silversmith in his 40s, melted a silver bar and poured it into a mold. When it cooled down, he forged, carved and polished it. About six hours, a glamourous bracelet weighing 80 grams was "created."

Instead of being put on a display window, it was immediately packaged in a gift box and handed to a deliveryman. It will be the farthest distance traveled by any product in Zhang's shop.

The bracelet's journey actually began in a livestreaming studio a few days back. Zhang, son of a Miao silversmith family, showcased his skills in front of a smartphone screen while his business partner was promoting his products.

Due to the outbreak of COVID-19 and plummeting tourists, silversmiths had to find a way to sell their products. The fast-growing livestreaming e-commerce was a solution.

Pan Xue, a Miao girl, born in 1997, was his apprentice who was tech-savvy enough to teach him video-filming skills and livestreaming with his traditional ornaments.

Zhang and Pan sometimes appeared together to present exquisite ornaments during livestreaming or in short videos.

They received more than 500 orders worth 115,680 yuan (about 18,000 U.S. dollars) within two months in the spring of 2020.

Other silversmiths were inspired. Zhang even became a fan of livestreaming and started video shooting himself. He has become used to livestreaming consistently almost every day and trying to be creative because he knows his "followers" would drop by his online studio to say hi.

This September, his income totaled more than 48,000 yuan, equivalent to his income for half a year in the past.

Not long ago, he took a lease on a new storefront not far from his shop and hired two more silversmiths to deal with online orders.

Zhang started learning from his uncle at 13 years old. Miao men usually do silverwork to support their families during the slack season in farming in winter. But thanks to e-commerce, there is no slack season for the silver business.

"Miao people have a long history of wearing silver ornaments. They are not just pretty, but also our cultural symbols. I'm glad to see more and more customers all over the country like our ornaments," Zhang said. Enditem

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