Origin of Wax Printing

The people living in many Miao nationality areas in China are still singing an ancient song “The Song of Wax Printing” about the origin of wax printing. Long long ago, according to a legend, a clever and beautiful Miao nationality girl was discontented with single-colored clothes and hoped to print various beautiful flower-and-plant patterns on her skirt. However, the craft of that time could only paint patterns by hand on skirts one by one. She was at a loss what to do and felt depressed. One day, on gazing at the hills full of fresh flowers, the girls was absorbed in meditation and fell into a trance, sinking into a deep sleep. In obscurity, a flower fairy, beautiful-dressed, took her to a garden with singing birds and fragrant flowers, dancing butterflies and busy-working bees. The girl was so fascinated by the beautiful scene that she had no idea at all about those bees crawling on her dress. When coming to her senses, she saw those spots and stains of honey and was left on her clothes. Putting her coat and skirt into a bucket for dyeing indigo, she tried to dye them once again so as to cover the was stains. After dyeing, the firl put her dress into boiling water to rinse out the floating color. When she took out the clothes, a miracle occurred before her eyes. Beautiful white flowers appeared on the dark blue coat and skirt where they had been stained with was. A bright idea occurred to her. At once, she took some wax and melted it by heating first and then drew some flower patterns on a piece of white cloth with a twig. After that it was dyed in indigo liquid and finally when the wax was melted away by boiling water, white flower patterns appeared on the cloth. The girl was so happy that she sang a folk song. On heating the resounding song, the countrymen, far and near, all came to see the skirt with flower patterns she had dyed and learned from her the skill of how to draw flowers and patterns on cloth. With this skill they dyed a great variety of cloth. From this time on , the technique of wax printing has been spread and handed down in the Miao nationality and the other fraternal national minorities living together with them such as the Bouyi nationality, the Yao nationality, etc.