Dawn of the Butterflies: The Last of the Kam Women Artisans in Dimen Village, China
Cambridge Scholars Publishing, forthcoming
by Marie Anna Lee
Marie Anna Lee has been working on a book on Chinese Kam minority artisans entitled “Dawn of the Butterflies,” in which she introduces five elderly matriarchs from the village Dimen, all of whom reveal hidden cultural and artistic treasures of their secluded indigenous culture.
The book draws broad conclusions on how Kam culture was formed, perpetuated and remained untouched for generations by placing crafts in context of these women’s other activities. Through personal examples, folk stories, and songs, the women demonstrate interrelationships among various modes of creativity and reveal how art produces culture and history.
These women’s stories immerse readers in a reality long lost in Western tradition and allow us to revisit, reexamine, and learn from the past. At the same time, the stories reveal cultural metamorphosis under pressure of industrialization with technology and outside products increasingly finding their way into people’s homes. Capturing details of contemporary rural life, the book sheds light on the diversity and heterogeneity of Chinese history and traditions and explores the impact of a mass exodus of the Kam workforce from the countryside to cities.
Lee has completed ninety pages of the manuscript.