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Click to enlargeChinese Embroidery

Chinese embroidery boasts a very long history. As the "Longevity embroidery" and "Token embroidery" unearthed from the Mawangdui Han Tomb in Changsha, Hunan Province, indicate, it reached a rather high level of development some 2000-3000 years ago. Wang Jia of the Jin Dynasty wrote in Making Good Omissions: "In the period of Three Kingdoms, Madame Zhao, wife of His Lord the chief of Wu, could embroider the map of all kingdoms on a piece of silk fabric, with the mountain ranges, rivers and sees all clearly shown. People of that time described it as superb needle-work." The said map was perhaps the earliest recorded embroidery in China.

During the Ming Dynasty, some Portuguese businessmen came to China and bought some embroideries, and when they returned home with these embroideries they were highly awarded by their king. Since then Chinese embroidery has become well-known throughout the world.

Shaanxi embroidery has inherited traditional Chinese embroidery techniques. It also shows great richness and artistic distinction in style, design and the use of color.

Embroideries are commonly seen at weddings. In a bridal chamber one can see various embroidered articles that took the bride several years to make before marriage. The finely embroidered shoe-pads are tokens of the bride's love. In their floral pattern is sometimes embroidered the Chinese word for "right", implying that the bride wants her lover to take a "right" road. The pillowcase embroidered with auspicious patterns symbolic good luck are a necessary dowry.

Children's clothes are usually embroidered with designs that give expression to parents' best wishes for their sons and daughters, wishes for their happiness, health and not being haunted by evil spirits.

Chinese embroidery is particular noted for its exquisite workmanship. Executed in fine close stitches, it looks smooth, neat and glossy. The stitches are hardly visible. The clever use of thick and thin color silk threads and a rich variety of stitches guarantees its superb quality.

Cross-stitch work is popular in Hanzhong Basin in southern Shaanxi. They boast a great variety of motifs, fine stitches and delicate patterns. They are best suited to decorate laces, collars, wristbands, bottoms of trouser legs, puttees, towels, towels used to cover pillows, wrappers, bedspreads, door curtains, tablecloth and other petit embroidered articles. They also can be used as fill-ins of other embroidery patterns. They are executed on plain cloth by stitching parallel right and left along the warp and weft threads of the cloth. The stitches can be small or long depending on the design used. And the usually floral designs, which are visible on both sides of the cloth but of different shades of color, take a variety of shapes - round, square or tree-like. There are also designs of vases, pots and baskets of flowers and figural designs.

Cross-stitch work shows simplicity of beauty and is durable. It is unique type of fine arts.

Dai Gandyi & Guo Youmin, Sinminchu Publishing Co.

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