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Embroidery

As a fine piece of traditional Chinese handcrafts, embroidery enjoys a far and wide reputation in the world. And it is also regarded as one of the most recognizable icons of Chinese culture.

Overview of Chinese Embroidery
Chinese embroidery enjoys a long history as a traditional handcraft art form. It involves a series of complicated and sophisticated needlework. Chinese embroidery can date back as early as the Neolithic age. The majority of the Chinese embroidery works are made of silk due to the high-quality of the silk fiber. A lot of ancient embroidery handcrafts were found at the Neolithic sites tracing back to about 5,000 to 6,000 years in China. The earliest silk embroidery was found from a mausoleum located in Mashan in Hubei province. After the Silk Road was opened in Han Dynasty, the silk had seen a rapid growth in production and trade ever since then. Today most handwork had been replaced by machinery, but some very sophisticated production are still hand-made. The modern Chinese silk embroidery still prevails in southern China. The Chinese embroidery is now classified into four major regional styles.

Major Embroidery Styles across China
With a history of 2,000 years, Su-style embroidery is mainly made in areas around Suzhou and Jiangsu Province. It is well known for its stunning patterns, diverse colors, various stitch techniques, and skillful craftsmanship. Su-style embroidery puts much stress on the refinement of the stitch techniques and the patterns. A wide variety of patterns are used in the making of the Su-style embroidery, like flowers, birds, animals and so on. Xiang-style embroidery refers to the collective silk handcrafts crafted in areas around Changsha, Hunan Province. It is famous for its blend of the black, white and gray colors. Xiang-style embroidery is said to borrow the concepts from the traditional water-color painting.

Yue-style embroidery is mainly produced in Chaozhou, Guangdong Province. It is characterized by elegant yet symmetrical patterns, contrasting colors, diverse stitches and refined weaves. It uses a series of bright colors to create the harmony between light and shade therefore to highlight the silk texture. Shu-style embroidery centers around Chengdu, Sichuan Province. It boasts as the oldest embroidery in China. It is well known for its use of satin and colorful silk, its painstaking and refined craftsmanship. Shu-style embroidery is decorated on quilt covers, pillowcases, garments, shoes and painted screens.

To sum it up, China has a rich and diverse embroidery culture and tradition worth exploring with a trip to China.