China’s Oldest Silversmith

Video and words by Asher Svidensky

While Miao culture can be presented though many things such as their colorful festivals, extraordinary wedding clothing and traditional music instruments. The Miao people are mainly famous around the world for one particular art – sophisticated handmade silver jewellery artwork.

Our journey led us to Maliau village where we met 74 year old master silversmith Li-Gong and Li-Ley-Ling, his 13 year old granddaughter and 2nd generation successor.

The workshop was dark, lit only by a small window and the television set. But sneaking in some ‘fill light’ from an LED light and trying really hard not to move the camera too much, we managed to get some beautiful images that I’m pretty pleased with.

A unique attribute to the Miao tribes is that they have been changing constantly. Picking up different symbols, folklore and fashions that were heavily influenced by imperial Chinese culture. In a way, the Miao appearance is a visual mixture of about 5,000 years of culture and each tribe present it’s own little window into the past. The Miao tribes culture is precious, especially when considering the fact they are some of the only survivors of the Cultural Revolution that occurred during the 1960’s and 70’s in China.

The Miao arts survival was only possible due to the isolated locations of their villages, which are often found in the muddy mountains and forests of the south, areas that were very hard to reach by outsiders until recently.

This video and accompanying text was produced by Asher Svidensky.

Asher is a freelance photographer specializing in art and documentary photography with a strong passion for mixing the two with storytelling.

His career began whilst conscripted in the military back in 2009 (2009-2012) serving as a photographer. After completing military service, he picked up a bag, a camera, and followed his dream to be a documentary photographer. Since then, Asher has been published in magazines and newspapers around the world, including the BBC (TV, radio and website), National Geographic (USA), The Guardian (UK), GEO (Germany & France), AD (Netherlands) and many more.

Find out more about Asher and his work ~

Featured image by Matt Popovich on Unsplash

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