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Qiao Niang Studio raised from grassroots

0 Comment(s)Print E-mail CNTV, December 8, 2011
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Qiao Niang Studio in Beijing is an organization that gathers up laid off, disabled and retired women and gives them jobs producing handicrafts.

Since the project was initiated in 2006, hundreds of locations have sprung up around the capital. Now, let's head to one of the Qiao Niang Studios to find out how women there are making a living while having fun.

These women are creating decorative pieces here at the Qiao Niang Studio. Five were laid off, four had retired. Here they are savoring a sense of achievement. As their work involves making Chinese knots, weaving and beading, the term "Qiao Niang" is an apt description, because the word in Chinese means "women with deft hands or nimble fingers."

This is one of the twelve Qiao Niang Studios in Dongcheng district, and one of the three hundred and seven such studios in Beijing. The studio provides free training to the participants, then for those who have mastered the skill, they receive orders offered by the studio, which they get from the public.

Wang Huiqin, member of Qiao Niang Studio, said, "I was a laid off worker before I learned the weaving skill from the Qiao Niang studio. Now I have received orders and made some earnings for my family."

Qi Weiwei, member of Qiao Niang Studio, said, "Thanks for the Dong Cheng district's Women's Association, which provides a platform for the laid off, retired and jobless women, and those who are interested in making handicrafts, to learn and communicate skills here, and sell the products to support family."

Zhang Hongjun, member of Qiao Niang Studio, said, "Many people both from home and abroad have visited our studio and they all favored our handicrafts very much."

The Qiao Niang art studios in Beijing are engaged in various handicraft categories. Except for the weaving and knotting art works, there are paper works, traditional kite making, ancient carriage making and lantern making. Many of the art works are original both in design and functionality.

Zheng Quansheng, the head of one of the Qiao Niang studios of Dongcheng district, said the studio is totally a welfare institution. They get the funds from the government for investing on equipment or teaching expenses. But income from selling the handicrafts totally goes to the people who make them.

Zheng Quansheng said, "We mainly get the orders from the local government, who buy the products as gifts. We also receive orders from the public who know our studio from the internet."

And now there are retail outlets that sell the art works created in Qiao Niang studios. A newly opened shop stocked with the best works from Qiao Niang studios is located on China Town street near the China Nationalities Museum.

Wang Shucun, president of Beijing Qiao Niang Studio Assoc., said, "Now there are thirty shops selling the products made in Qiao Niang studios. The project of Qiao Niang studios was initiated by Beijing Women's Association have absorbed 53-thousand jobless women to get income and rediscover their value."

Women from rural areas are also part of the project. For example, Zhao Yumei from Ping Gu district is now the leader of a Qiao Niang studio majoring in Guard products.

And the handicrafts made by Qiao Niang are sometimes eco-friendly. Look at this cloisonne vase made from used playing cards. It was created by Ding Suying, a retired woman who can make a series of everyday items using cards.

In just five years, Qiao Niang has become a known brand, and if you come across a Qiao Niang studio or Qiao Niang shop one day, you'll be dazzled by the creativity and ingenuity hidden in women from the grassroots level.

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