Textiles, Identity and Innovation: In Touch Proceedings of the 2nd International Textile Design Conference (D_TEX 2019), June 19-21, 2019, Lisbon, Portugal

Preservation of the Hezhe people’s fish skin tradition through fashion education

E. Palomino UAL, Central Saint Martins; University of the Arts, London 

J. Boon  UAL, Central Saint Martins; University of the Arts, London & Slade School of Fine Art, London 

People have worn clothes made from fish skin since early times, with earliest traces being found in Northeast China belonging to the Hezhe ethnic minority group. There is evidence of fish skin leather production in Scan-dinavia, the USA (Alaska), Japan (Hokkaido), Northeast China, and Russia (Siberia). Although the craft has almost disappeared, in 2006 the skill of processing fish skin was one of the first listed as Intangible Cultural Heritage of China. This paper describes the FishSkinLab workshop delivered in Tongjiang, China, where expe-rienced Hezhe craftspeople have pass down the endangered fish skin craft to the next generation of Chinese stu-dents as part of a sustainable fashion higher education programme to learn best practices for social change and sustainability. The students mapped their creative journey, explored the rich cultural background of the Hezhe communities, and created a collection of fish skin textile samples with the help and guidance of Hezhe fish skin masters.