Straw plaiting in Boxing county, Binzhou

By Zhu Shengnan| (| Updated : 2022-06-07

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Straw plaiting is a traditional handicraft in Boxing county, Binzhou, which uses straw, reed, cattail, or corn husk to braid products like hats, cushions, storage boxes, and ornaments.


Straw plaiting items [Photo/Dazhong News]

The earliest straw-woven relics were made by the Hemudu people living in the period of the Hemudu culture around 7000 years ago.

According to historical records, the plaiting art originated when ancestors recorded major events by tying knots in ropes before characters were created.

"Rope" in Chinese is "Sheng", which sounds similar to "Shen", the Chinese word for God. In honor of the Gods, ancestors often tied knots in ropes to send messages, express their thoughts or to help them remember something.

Straw plaiting became prevalent in Boxing county during the Qing Dynasty (1636-1911). The cold-proof shoes braided with cattail sold well in the capital city of the Qing Dynasty. In 1929, 200 people in Xingfu town, Boxing county were engaged in braiding slippers with cattail leaves, producing 150,000 pairs annually, which were sold to European and American areas.


Straw plaiting artworks [Photo/Dazhong News]

Located in the Yellow River Delta, Boxing county boasts many wetlands and lakes which are home to reed and cattail whose stems and leaves are the raw material for straw plaiting.

Due to its location and good climate, reed and cattail are cheap, inexhaustible resources for Boxing county, leading to the thriving straw plaiting industry.

Lying along the shore of Mada Lake, Hubin town in Boxing county is renowned as a famous straw-plaiting town and one of the main production areas of straw plaiting in China. Its products are sold to Southeast Asia, European and American areas, and are very popular among foreigners.

In 2009, Boxing's straw plaiting was listed as a provincial-level intangible cultural heritage item.


People braid baskets with reed. [Photo/Dazhong News]

In Boxing county, almost every household can braid items with reed or straw, making items such as cattail leaf fans, cattail hassocks and straw sandals. Straw plaiting has become a primary source of income for local residents.