Phase 2: Finding Helpful Resources
Previously in Phase 1, I have narrowed down my research and plan to answer 10 main questions regarding embroidery in Yunnan. In Phase 2, I will be asking experts and recording my sources here.
For the research done in Phase 3, I retrieved most of my sources from Google. I used keywords such as:
- Chinese embroidery
This was a broad topic but it was a great place to start off. The sources it provided gave me a general understanding of the history and culture behind Chinese embroidery.
- Yunnan embroidery
I used this keyword to refine my previous research on Chinese embroidery. These provided sources for the unique techniques used in Yunnan.
- Dali embroidery
- Xizhou embroidery
These helped me looked more into the local embroidery workshops in the area. I was able to find locations such as Happy Embroidery and the Embroidery School in XiZhou.
- Bai ethnic embroidery
By researching specifically in the Bai minority embroidery, I was able to get a clearer idea of what their embroidered pieces would look like, and the stories behind them.
I knew my sources were valid and correct because:
- The same information was repeated in multiple sites.
- It was collected from Microcampus alumni.
- The information could not be manipulated by the viewer.
- Most sources were written by either first-hand witness or those knowledgeable on the topic.
- Some of the websites end with ".org" or ".gov".
The majority of the sources had the author's name listed below the article or was created by an organization.
From my research, I have found Ms. Cui Jia (firstname.lastname@example.org), a student from the School of Design at the Hong Kong Polytechnic University:
Dear Ms. Jia,
I am Audrey, an 8th grader at Shanghai American School. Currently, I am in Xizhou, Yunnan studying ethnic embroidery for a month as part of a program in our school. I have come up with ten general questions to guide me through my research during my time here:
1. How does the embroidery in XiZhou, specifically the Bai minority embroidery, differ from the rest of China?
2. What are some of the popular patterns of embroidery in XiZhou? What do they mean?
3. What does the future of embroidery look like? How is the tradition maintained?
4. Why is this form of art so popular and important to their culture?
5. How does embroidery contribute to the everyday life in XiZhou?
6. How often are the embroidered clothing worn? In what occasions?
7. Why is embroidery mostly practiced by women of the village?
8. What were some historical events that affected the style or development of embroidery? And How did it affect this art form?
9. How has embroidery evolved over the years?
10. Why is embroidery still being practiced today? What kept the people of China continuing on this tradition?
From your paper on "Chinese Pattern Design Using Generative Shape Grammar", I was hoping you could lend some expertise and advice on Yunnan embroidery.
If it isn't too much trouble, please look through the background research I have done before coming to Yunnan.
So far, Ms. Jia has not yet replied to my email.
Now that I am in XiZhou, I am able to ask the staff and chaperones around Yangzhuoran (where we stay) about my topic. They personally may not know how to embroider, but they do know some local sources who I can look into. I completed a process called "3-to-5's", where I chat with 3 to 5 people for 3 to five minutes. I began this process with the Yangzhuoran staff:
I started with Mr. He. As an elder of the town, I would expect him to provide me some helpful sources. In fact, he claimed he did not know any sources since the art of embroidery is barely practiced today.
- Happy Embroidery, Ms. Lin
- Gui Zhou Embroidery Shop, next to the Linden Center
- Embroidery shops between Sifanjie and the Morning Market
- Happy Embroidery
- Yi minority embroidery shops, by the Linden Center
- Antique stores, one by the Morning Market and another on the way to the Linden Center
- Elders embroidering by the Baochengfu
Then I moved on to asking my chaperones, Ms. Mai and Mr. T. As the leaders of Microcampus for 2 years, they have made multiple local contacts and helped with other alumni interested in embroidery.
- Happy Embroidery, Ms. Lin, and her assistant
- Miao minority embroidery shops, by the Linden Center
- Antique store, ran by Mr. Yang
- Yang Nainai, local elder who embroiders shoes
- Gui Zou Embroidery Shop, ran by Miao minority women
- Mr. Li, former antique shop owner
Finally, I visited Mrs. Linden. Although it seemed as if I had all the sources I could get, I thought interviewing her could give me some fresh sources.
- Local elders, who embroider outside of Baochengfu
- Embroidery factory, between Ranyixiang and the Morning Market
- Mr. Li, former antique shop owner
To make sure I have a sufficient amount of contacts, I plan to interview up to five people for the "3-to-5's." If the same sources repeat throughout the interviews, I know that I have the most contacts I could have at the moment. I could definitely tell if my sources are sufficient when I spend the rest of my inquiry project busy with visits.
Finally, I had to find a book in the Yangzhuoran library that could provide assistance to my inquiry project. The book I found had little to do with embroidery or Chinese culture, but it was about photography and storytelling. The Girl in the Picture by Denise Chong tells the story of a popular 20th-century wartime photograph and the story it tells. I believe this can teach me how to tell a story through photography, which is one of the aspects of my project.
Now that I am complete with gathering my sources, the next step would be collecting research in Phase 3.