Cobweb clothes of the Kucong

 

Cobweb Clothes of the Kucong People - Color - 40min - 2007

Directors: Liu Jun, Liang Li.

The Kucong is one of the least known minorities of China. Most of them inhabited the tropical mountains between Zhenyuan and Jinping counties, south of Yunnan province, where they carried their nomad lives avoiding contacts with the outer world. Most of them were contacted during the 1950s and 1960s and forced to sttle, at least during most part of the year.

Today there are approximately 15,000 Kucong (officially considered Lahu) ethnic residents in Zhenyuan Yi, Hani, and Lahu Autonomous County. Due to historical oppression of ethnic minorities and the high altitude and climate of Ailao Mountain, the Kucong have lived at the bottom of the social hierarchy. To this day, there are many Kucong who have yet to escape from poverty. In the 1960s, Zheng Xianwen discovered that Wang Kaiying, the leader of the Kucong community, was forced to wear hats and clothes made from spider webs in order to keep out the cold.

Like a story from the history books, one look at the spider web clothing was enough to grasp the plight of the Kucong people. In a walk into the memories of the Kucong people the film shows us the archaic process that Kucong people historically used to keep out the cold in their isolated mountains.

"It was not very comfortable." Say the people that formerly wear it. But it was an unique response of a human group to their special environment and historical development.

This film is a search for the 40-year-old cobweb clothes. As we learn the old technique to make a cobweb cloth, we walk into the memories of the Kucong people and look at how they are faring today.

Liu Jun is an associate research fellow in the Institute of Ethnology at the Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences and a director with the Yunnan Academy of Social Sciences Anthropological Film Production and Research Center. Liu's research and documentary work investigates ethnic cultures.
Liang Li is a community journalist and the director of planning at the Pu'er Daily. Having walked the villages of Pu'er, Liang has a particular interest in research about ethnic minority culture.

The film was screened in Yunfest 2009

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