Ranyi Town in southwest China's Sichuan Province turns into a busy world: machines are rumbling around the clock in local plants and workers are busy with making hadas as Losar, or Tibetan New year, is approaching.
The township is famous for manufacturing hada, a traditional ceremonial scarf in Tibetan Buddhism. The scarf symbolizes purity and compassion, which has been widely used on many occasions such as births, weddings, graduations, and the arrival or departure of guests in Tibetan regions.
"We've gotten four to five times more orders with Losar almost here. We keep machinery running round the clock, while workers are also busy loading hadas onto trucks," said Zhi Xuewen, general manager of a local craftwork plant in the town.
"My plant can produce 30,000 to 50,000 hadas every day," said Zhi, adding that his plant supplies hadas for retailers and monasteries.
With a population of over 30,000, the majority of whom are Han Chinese, the history of hada production of the town dates back more than 200 years.
It is said that people in the town learned how to weave hada in the city of Chengdu, capital of Sichuan in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911), and returned to teach locals the technique. Locals then brought and sold hadas to the Tibetan regions through ancient trade routes, and found a huge market of unique crafts used by Tibetans.
Zhi also works with Tongde County of Qinghai Province and Xigaze city of Tibet Autonomous Region to help them develop the hada industry, setting up hada plants, providing equipment and training local residents.
The town produces some 24.5 million hadas every year, accounting for 80 percent of the entire hada output of the country. So far, there are 46 enterprises producing hada and diverse ethnic groups' craftwork including Tibetan wool fabric, Tibetan incense, butter lamps, and prayer wheels, which will be sold to China's Tibet, Qinghai, Xinjiang and Inner Mongolia, as well as foreign countries such as Nepal and Myanmar, according to the local government.
Hu Pengfei has run his family hada plant for nearly 20 years, which has become one of the largest hada plants in the town. Hu's plant created an output value of 12 million yuan (1.7 million U.S. dollars) last year. His business covers major cities in the vast Tibetan regions in China.
As the fourth generation of the plant, Hu has been making efforts to expand and develop the business. "Through online sales channels, our high-quality hadas have been sold to overseas markets," Hu said.
The price of a hada ranges from five yuan to more than 1,000 yuan due to diverse materials.
"It is not just a piece of fabric," said Hu. "For me, hada ties my family close to the Tibetan people. One of my father's Tibetan clients passed away, but his son continues his relationship with us."
"It is far beyond a business partnership. We are just like brothers, always lend a helping hand when anyone is in trouble," the 30-year-old said.