As a Kachin person, I believe that cultural heritage is one of the most valuable things we have. As a community struggling in the midst of political instability and uncertainty, culture offers a constructive tool for building Kachin identity. Even such a regular routine such as weaving clothing at home can be considered an important form of heritage and culture, which also produces various splendid textiles.
The picture below was taken by James Henry Green in north-eastern Burma in the early years of the twentieth century. In this photograph a young girl is weaving. The Kachins grow cotton and make clothes, turbans, blankets, and shoulder bags for themselves. Normally, it is Kachin women who weave. Even though it may appear to be a normal household chore, it produces beautiful and unique Kachin textile patterns.
Today, amongst other cultural products in Burma, Kachin textiles can be regarded as one of the most distinctive and popular. While Kachin clothing was only worn by Kachin people in the early 1900s, nowadays some Kachin textile designs are produced and worn by different ethnic people. For contemporary Kachin people these textiles remain a visible symbol of their cultural identity.
My name is Gumring and I am a member of the Kachin ethnic community of Burma. Facing many current political challenges and uncertainties, Kachinland is located in north-eastern Burma, between India and China.
I was awarded a scholarship from the James Henry Green Charitable Trust for my postgraduate studies at the University of Sussex. Currently I am working on the James Henry Green collection of photographs and textiles relating to the Kachin community in Burma. This is my second blog about this collection, which is cared for at Brighton Museum & Art Gallery.