Willow-knitting in Boxing

By Zhu Shengnan| (chinadaily.com.cn)| Updated : 2022-05-13

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Willow-knitting is a traditional art and craft that consists of using willow twigs to weave items. The twigs of many willow species can be used, such as salix matsudand, weeping willows, salix integra, and rose willow.

Willow-knitting has a history of over 800 years in Boxing county, Binzhou, Shandong province. It originated in Xingfu town and was developed by a craftsman surnamed Wang who used willow twigs to weave baskets and other utensils. Willow-knitting became prevalent in Boxing in the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties.


Willow-knitting item: baskets [Photo/WeChat account: bxxwhg]

In the early period of the Qing Dynasty, folk craftsmen could weave exquisite, strong, and durable wicker products, such as boxes, baskets, dustpans, and buckets. With the maturity of willow-knitting skills, more and more people began to take up this craft, increasing from about 4,000 people in the late period of Qing Dynasty to over 15,000 people in the Republic of China (1912-1949) period.

There are seven links in the willow-knitting production process, including material selection, coloring, soaking, knitting, fumigation, drying, and brushing lacquer, all of which are done by hand. The knitting methods include interweaving, fastening, twisting, and twining. In addition to baskets and boxes, willow twigs can also be made into curtains, screens, and flowerpot holders.


A basket weaved by willow twigs [Photo/WeChat account: bxxwhg]

In 2011, Boxing's willow-knitting was listed as a national intangible cultural heritage item.

Currently, Boxing is renowned as a famous willow-knitting town. Its products are sold in over 20 overseas countries and regions, such as the United States, Japan, and Europe, which are very popular among foreigners. Willow-knitting has also become a primary source of income for local farmers.


Willow-knitting item: jars [Photo/WeChat account: bxxwhg]