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Embroidered balls - the love expression of Zhuang people


Saying "I love you" is one way to show affection. But for the Zhuang people in Guangxi Zhuang autonomous region, there has been a subtle expression of love for centuries - throwing embroidered ball.

Embroidered balls, or Xiuqiu in Chinese, are a traditional handicraft of the Zhuang ethnic group. They are made of colored silk cloth, typically in red, yellow and green. The twelve connected petals on a ball are embroidered with patterns of flowers and birds, representing the twelve months of the year. Seeds from certain crops are also often enclosed inside the ball.

Throwing embroidered ball is a traditional custom of the Zhuang people. Every year, they have a big celebration of Lunar March 3 Festival on the third day of the third lunar month. One major activity is the antiphonal “Dui Ge” where one side sings and the other side responds. Boys and girls gather on an open ground and get acquainted by singing impromptu songs; if a girl saw a boy she liked, she would toss a embroidered ball for him to catch; then the boy would know that he is welcome to pursue her.

Embroidery balls are used to be a token expressing love between young boys and girls of Zhuang people, more commonly known as Zhuang love balls. Every Zhuang girl learns to embroider from an early age; there is an old Zhuang saying that is passed on from mother to daughter “if you don’t embroider, you won’t find a good husband.

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