Silk ribbon embroidery pulls Xinjiang villagers out of poverty

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Workers check the humidity of cloth at a workshop in Jizhou District of Hengshui, north China's Hebei Province, Dec. 25, 2018. Xinhua/Li Xiaoguo

URUMQI (Xinhua) – Nassaguri Tokhtkurban, 42, has three roles: businesswoman, student and part-time lecturer, but she was better known to many as the head of a startup with 68 skilled local artisans.

Her company, based in Hotan Prefecture in northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, is in one of the country’s most impoverished counties given its inhospitable climate and sterile land. Most of the villagers earn a living away from home, but not Ms Nassaguri.

She has been the breadwinner of her family over the past 18 years thanks to her exquisite silk ribbon embroidery. Last year, she decided to share her craftsmanship with her left-behind villagers to help lift them out of poverty.

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“Silk ribbon embroidery requires luxurious needlework. Therefore, quality products can be sold at very pleasant prices,” said Ms Nassaguri.

In recent years, the local government has provided a series of incentives to encourage ambitious villagers to start their own businesses. Ms Nassaguri said she made up her mind to start her own workshop on silk ribbon embroidery largely due to the government’s tax subsidies, free plant rental and free staff training.

As an attempt to win more buyers, Ms Nassaguri combined traditional techniques of ribbon embroidery with modern elements and created a series of daily-use commodities such as t-shirts, pillows and backpacks.

The workshop received orders across the country totaling over 800,000 yuan (about 116,000 US dollars) during the 6th China-Eurasia Expo in August, Ms Nassaguri said.

“Our products were quite popular during the expo,” she said. “Clients were impressed by our exquisite and fashionable designs.”

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Ms Nassaguri’s hard work is paying off as more villagers now can have a stable source of income after joining her workshop.

“I earn about 1,500 yuan a month since I started working for Nassaguri,” said Zalinur Doret, one of the 68 artisans with the workshop. “Life is getting better.”

Ms Nassaguri is considering the possibility of expanding her workshop next year after she attended a training course on business management provided by Tsinghua University, one of the most prestigious universities in China.

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