Communities continue traditions that draw sustenance from the land. Pottery and porcelain come from earthen clay, which craftspeople combine with water to create objects that are beautiful and useful. Weavers, dyers, and embroiderers use fibers and other materials derived from plants and animals. Potters and textile artists often base their designs on patterns and processes related to the local landscape. At the same time, many craftspeople are adapting their designs and techniques to meet changing tastes and to reflect new influences. In this way, they are reshaping the communities and landscapes that nurture their art.
Potters and textile artists are among the traditional culture bearers whose practices have been influenced in recent years by China’s strategies for safeguarding cultural heritage. Among these is “productivity-based protection,” which seeks to preserve traditional arts by commercializing them. This approach has generated debate. While it provides traditional artists with a livelihood, it can also change the materials and community-based meanings of their work.