Following the patterns of history

A thread that binds generations of Suzhou craftswomen continues to weave ever beautiful designs, Deng Zhangyu reports.

By Deng Zhangyu | China Daily | Updated: 2024-03-26 06:43
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A signature work by Zou Yingzi. [Photo by Gao Erqiang/China Daily]

Courting royalty

Su embroidery is known for its rich colors, intricate embroidery techniques, elegant designs and clean stitches. All these characteristics, which distinguish it from other embroidery styles in China, have been long closely connected with the natural environment and lifestyle of Suzhou, a city that has a long history of silk production and textile craftsmanship, making it a natural hub for the development of embroidery techniques, according to Zheng Lihong, an art professor of Soochow University.

Suzhou also boasts elegant gardens and Kunqu Opera. It has been an economic and cultural center in ancient China for a millennium. Many noblemen and well-educated people settled down in the city. Women from these rich and noble families had a good taste for art. The style of their needlework was influenced by the aesthetic tastes of the city's nobles.

"To some extent, Su embroidery is close to paintings. Many artists offered their ink paintings and calligraphy for embroiderers to re-create," says Zheng.

Zheng adds that centuries ago, the number of female painters in and around Suzhou reached more than 200. The rich cultural and artistic environment gave Su embroidery a high level of aesthetic expression.

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