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What fabric is Xiangyun gauze

Xiangyun gauze or gambiered Guangdong gauze

Wearing¬†Xiangyunsha¬†makes a rustling sound when walking, hence it is also known as “Xiangyun gauze”. Xiangyun yarn is exclusively produced in Foshan and surrounding areas of Guangdong, and is renowned both domestically and internationally for its unique natural dyeing techniques, as well as its cool, pleasant, lightweight, and soft characteristics.

To this day, there is still a sun drying plant in Shunde, Guangdong that preserves the ancient handcrafted processing of fragrant cloud gauze.

What fabric is Xiangyun gauze

Wearing fragrant cloud gauze on hot days is cool and comfortable

Xiangyun gauze, commonly known as Ranunculus silk or cloud gauze. According to the “Guangdong Textile Industry Chronicle” and other classics, as early as the Daoguang period of the Qing Dynasty, villagers in the Xiqiao area of the South China Sea had already used potato vines, river mud, and other materials to dye and polish silk, producing black on the outside and brown on the inside, with a slightly shiny effect.

What fabric is Xiangyun gauze

Wearing aged and faded silk clothing

The raw material used for Xiangyun gauze is the unique potato vine in the Pearl River Delta region, so the production technique of Xiangyun gauze in the Pearl River Delta is also the most comprehensive, with Foshan’s Xiangyun gauze being the most famous.

Shen Tingfang recorded in the “Qianlong Guangzhou Prefecture Annals” that “the essence of Foshan silk is inferior to that of Jinling, Suzhou, and Hangzhou.”

What fabric is Xiangyun gauze

Shen Tingfang, a scholar and book collector of the Qing Dynasty, was appointed as a scholar and scholar of the Hanlin Academy during the Qianlong period

Xiangyun gauze is dyed using the juice of potato vines and local river mud rich in iron ions as raw materials, without the use of any chemical dyes. It is a pure natural and pollution-free environmentally friendly product.

What fabric is Xiangyun gauze

Aged cowhide silk clothing

Xiangyun gauze has the characteristics of being quite refreshing and smooth, strong waterproof, easy to wash and dry, not touching the skin, lightweight and not easily wrinkled, soft and rich in body bone, etc., making it particularly suitable for wearing in humid and hot summer. Even on a summer day of 40 degrees Celsius, wearing clothing made of fragrant cloud gauze still feels very cool and comfortable.

Xiangyun gauze has been exported to Europe, America, India and other places, and is known as a “black sparkling pearl” overseas.

I started scraping potato vines across the river mud before dawn

Liang Zhu studied late and started studying in a private school in the village at the age of 10. Due to family poverty, he dropped out of school at the age of 14. In 1949, Liang Zhu joined the Shunde Lunjiao United Sunflower Factory as an apprentice and began his career in making fragrant cloud gauze.

At the sun drying field, Liang Zhu apprenticed under Chen Quan, who was 8 years older than him. Although Chen Quan is not very old, he has seven or eight years of experience in drying buttercups and is a skilled hand at drying them. Chen Quan taught him every process, process, and technical essentials of Xiangyun yarn production without reservation. The master is also very strict with him, and every action cannot be careless. Because sunbathing buttercups emphasizes the word “diligence”, with quick hands and feet, a lively mind, and the need to figure out every detail and secret on one’s own in order to be proficient.

 

What fabric is Xiangyun gauze

Liang Zhu’s apprenticeship began with the most arduous and tiring work. For example, scraping the skin of a buttercup with a knife, sun drying the buttercup in the scorching sun, and blackening the silk. What impressed him the most was that at 4am every day, the workers would wake up to cross the river mud. As he slept soundly, he couldn’t wake up no matter how he called, and the master had no choice but to spank his buttocks with branches.

What fabric is Xiangyun gauze

In the early morning, the craftsmen crossing the river mud

When crossing the river mud, the mop dipped in the mud was too heavy. Looking at the thick stack of raw silk, Liang Zhu found it difficult to endure. The other workers were all working vigorously, and he was still struggling with drowsiness. At that time, there was no electricity, unlike now when there are electric crushers to handle it. Scraping and grinding the sweet potato buttercups uses a wooden board, with thick and long iron nails densely packed through the board, with the nail tips facing upwards. The worker repeatedly scrapes the sweet potato buttercups on the board nails with their hands. This job is both physically demanding and dangerous, and there are no workers who are not injured.

What fabric is Xiangyun gauze

He still remembers one morning when his master instructed him to scrape and grind sweet potato buttercups. Due to a lack of sleep for a long time, Liang Zhu took a nap while scraping and grinding sweet potato buttercups, and accidentally scraped blood from his palm. Nowadays, the scars left by the iron nails are still faintly visible. Liang Zhu said, “The wound on my hand is very deep, and I don’t have the money to bandage it. I can only endure the pain and continue working. I dare not let my family see it, afraid they will worry.”

After five years of apprenticeship, Liang Zhu mastered various processes and technologies in the production of fragrant cloud yarn. He is also proficient in regulating the concentration of dyeing solution, and will not cause discoloration or inability to dye due to incorrect concentration during dyeing. Liang Zhu said that this requires patience and attention, as being impatient can’t make you eat hot tofu.

What fabric is Xiangyun gauze

After being sun dried, the white gauze of Xiangyun gauze becomes cowhide gauze

Climbing the runway of the French International Fashion Festival

“It’s like the wind hitting the waves, with ups and downs, some high and some low.” Liang Zhu used this sentence to summarize the development of Xiangyunsha and his life experience.

After the reform and opening up, Liang Zhu ushered in a turning point in her life. The village collective is going to re establish the Xinmin Suning Ranunculaceae Factory and invite Liang Zhu to be the factory director. “Those craftsmen used to be invited back, and I saw hope again.” In the following 10 years, customers from Hong Kong, Jiangsu and Zhejiang, and other places, came to Liangzhu’s factory to purchase materials, with an annual production capacity of over 400000 meters at its peak.

What fabric is Xiangyun gauze

In the 1990s, a large number of new textile products with diverse varieties and low prices emerged, and the single colored Xiangyun yarn lost its competitiveness, resulting in a decreasing processing volume. In 1996, Liang Zhu’s factory only processed less than 10000 meters in a year, leaving only four workers in the end. The craftsmanship of Xiangyun gauze was in danger of being lost. At the most difficult moment, Liang Zhu was unwilling to watch the company die and bought the factory with two companions.

What fabric is Xiangyun gauze

Based on traditional experience, Liang Zhu developed a set of “three washes, nine cooks, and eighteen sun drying” processes to help the sun drying plant overcome the most difficult times and gradually gain market recognition. A Japanese businessman who loves silk came to his door and asked Liang Zhu to process 40000 meters of buttercup silk on his behalf.

What fabric is Xiangyun gauze

There are small jacquard patterns on the sun dried cowhide fabric

Coincidentally, a designer from a clothing factory in Shenzhen discovered a backlog of Xiangyun yarn fabric in their warehouse and keenly felt the added value contained in this traditional fabric. They then imported Xiangyun yarn clothing from Liang Zhu’s factory and successfully entered the international market, making Xiangyun yarn stand on the runway of the French International Fashion Festival.

Due to the complex process of Xiangyun yarn and the high production cost of pure manual processing, the clothing produced has always been on the high-end route. Nowadays, the large number of orders received by the factory mostly come from overseas, which can be said to be “blooming inside the wall and fragrant outside the wall.”.

What fabric is Xiangyun gauze

Designer Qu Tingnan applies fragrant cloud gauze to the design of high-end clothing

In 2008, Xiangyun yarn dyeing and finishing technology became a national intangible cultural heritage protection project. The enterprise where Liang Zhu is located has also expanded its vision to areas such as protection, research and development, production, exhibition, and tourism, creating a fragrant cloud yarn industrial park. “Only by creating a sufficiently loud Xiangyun yarn brand can the true Xiangyun yarn craftsmanship be passed down and promoted!”

Three washes, nine boiling, and eighteen sun drying to make fragrant cloud gauze

The dyeing and finishing technique of Xiangyun gauze, also known as sun dried buttercup, is a process of dyeing silk fabrics with plant dye – sweet potato buttercup juice. The process of sun drying buttercups is very complicated, relying entirely on manual production. There are 14 main processes that need to be carried out, including preparing raw silk, soaking sweet potato and buttercup water, sun drying buttercup, sealing buttercup water, boiling and refining, crossing river mud, washing, pulling cloth, spreading mist, rolling silk, and putting it into storage. The dyeing process, including soaking, sprinkling, sealing, boiling, crossing the river mud, and washing with water, takes about 15 days to complete.

What fabric is Xiangyun gauze

The entire dyeing process is purely manual

The dyeing process of Xiangyun gauze requires a lot of attention. Sundried buttercups are greatly affected by sunlight. From July to early August, due to strong sunlight and high temperatures, the dried silk will become hard and brittle, making it unsuitable for construction; After November, due to the dry monsoon from the north moving southward, it is not advisable to sunbathe the buttercups. Therefore, Xiangyun gauze can only be made from April to October within a year.

What fabric is Xiangyun gauze

The concentration of sweet potato water during the sprinkling, sealing, and cooking process is completely controlled and adjusted by the experience of the workers. The pure handmade sun dried fragrant cloud gauze, each piece is different, which is also the charm and value of fragrant cloud gauze.

What fabric is Xiangyun gauze

At 5 o’clock in the morning, before dawn, the workers at the sun drying plant were already busy crossing the river mud. They spread out a piece of raw silk dyed with potato juice on the edge of the river mud channel, and evenly spread the excavated river mud onto the fabric. Mud cannot be applied in an arc, nor can it leave mop or scraper marks. Workers are very physically demanding when dragging back and forth.

What fabric is Xiangyun gauze

The workers at the sun drying plant have to get up early in the morning to work

“The most taboo thing about sun drying Ranunculus is that there is coarse sand on the ground, and silk is easily worn out during the pulling process. Before sun drying Ranunculus, workers will clean up the coarse sand and other sharp things.” Liang Zhu said that the production of fragrant cloud gauze often starts from three or four o’clock in the morning. Fresh sweet potato buttercup juice flows into the soaking tank through a grinder, sediment tank, filter tank, and water tank. Workers continuously flip the raw silk with both hands, and even step on it with their feet, allowing the raw silk to fully absorb the sweet potato buttercup juice. The juice keeps making a gurgling sound as it flips.

What fabric is Xiangyun gauze

The workers started drying the buttercups

As the sun gradually rose, the workers began sunbathing the buttercups. If they see dewdrops on the grass in the sun drying area, they should walk back and forth with a coarse cloth mop to suck up the dew, so as not to affect the drying of the raw silk. Sprinkling water, sealing water, and sun drying buttercups, all go back and forth in a cycle.

What fabric is Xiangyun gauze

The workers are sprinkling buttercup water

Crossing the river mud, also known as “crossing Wu”, is the last and most important process of fragrant cloud yarn, as well as the most magical process. After more than thirty sun dried buttercups, they have turned into brownish red silk, which has undergone immersion dyeing before transforming into a black and brown fragrant cloud gauze.

What fabric is Xiangyun gauze

The most critical process – “crossing Ukraine”

Liang Zhu once told an interesting story that some silk companies once wanted to “replicate” the production technology of fragrant cloud gauze, and even brought back the river mud needed for dyeing, but never made fragrant cloud gauze. Some research institutions attempt to use chemical experiments to produce fragrant cloud yarn, but the resulting fabric always lacks the unique effect of one dark side and one light side.

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