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Kongbai Miao Village is in the southeast of Guizhou, near Kaili city. Compared with some famous minority villages nearby, Kongbai is not so popular among tourists, and it is hard to find information about it online.
For this reason, hardly anyone knows that Kongbai used to be the most famous Miao silversmithing village, and villagers today still preserve this ancient technology.
Now, follow me to Kongbai and discover some of the best silver ornamental work, or try your hand at this disappearing handicraft.
Miao minority people love silver ornaments. In ancient times, every Miao village had silversmiths and silver workshops. Among them, silversmiths in Kongbai were regarded as among the best. Why? The answer is in their history:
Today, in most villages, silversmiths and their offspring are giving up the craft, for machines are manufacturing many cheaper ornaments. There are, however, still a few silversmiths in Kongbai passing on this traditional handicraft. Their work is exhibited round the world, admired and praised by countless artists and collectors.
In Kongbai, you will have a chance to admire some exquisite silver objects, learn the craft, and try to create your own design. Would you like a try?
Miao traditional silver ornaments are all handmade, and the processing is very complex. Ten to 20 steps may be needed in the creation of an exquisite ornament. Molds or diagrams are not used, for silversmiths can create an infinite variety of shapes from their own imaginations.
Major parts of the process include hammering, thread-drawing, thread-rolling, thread-bending, carving, welding and washing.
You may not experience all parts of the process. The major focus of your experience will be the thread-drawing and -bending technology, which is to draw thick silver wire into thin silver thread, and bend it into various shapes. You can take a short lesson with a local master, before trying to create your own design, and keeping your work as a souvenir.
Kongbai is suitable for visiting all year round. Read about how to plan a Guizhou tour including Kongbai, or ask your travel consultant for other ideas.
Guizhou has pleasantly cool weather. The temperatures in summer are only around 25°C, and may drop lower in the early morning or at night. You are advised to bring some long-sleeved clothes even in summer, and prepare enough warm jackets in winter. Also check the weather in Guizhou.
It is hard to imagine a tour to Kongbai if you can’t speak Chinese, for there is not much English spoken there.
If you are interested, going on a private tour with a travel service (like China Highlights) would be a wonderful choice. You could travel in a private vehicle, have a tour guide to solve any language problems, and have plenty of time for the experience.
Check the following sample itinerary which includes Kongbai silversmithing, as well as many minority-culture experiences and two more traditional handicrafts. Just browse the tour to find out what is already available: 6-Day Guizhou Minority Adventure Including Folk Handicrafts.