Wuren shows a handmade "sunflower sister" doll at her workshop in Hulunbuir, North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region, on Aug 3, 2020. [Photo by Zhao Shiyue/chinadaily.com.cn]
Wuren Yijirheyen, a 52-year-old shepherd in Hulunbuir, North China's Inner Mongolia autonomous region, never dreamed her small family workshop in fur and leather handicrafts would grow to a giant business with over 1 million yuan ($143,900) in annual sales and lift hundreds of impoverished women out of poverty.
In about 2005 when homestay tourism began booming in Wuren's hometown, a remote grassland village of nomad families, the ambitious woman started to make sunflower handwork – the Ewenki ethnic group's traditional ethnic decoration – for tourists.
As a nomadic minority group living in high altitude areas of northeastern China, the Ewenkis worship the sun, warmth and brightness, Wuren said. Sunflower motifs, commonly made of cowhide, sheepskin and sable fur and decorated with agate stones, are believed to bring blessings and good luck to local inhabitants.