China

From the Land

Suzhou Embroidery, Jiangsu Province

“In the past, every Suzhou family made a living with embroidery. First, there were only a few types of stitches. Through study, we developed more techniques and with our knowledge of painting, we innovated the use of color.” —Cai Meiying, Suzhou embroiderer

Suzhou, or Su, embroidery is named for the garden city that has long been the center of the country’s silk trade. With its dense, fine needlework and depictions of idealized landscapes, this craft has been a source of local identity and pride—even as Suzhou developed into one of the country’s largest centers of high-tech manufacturing.

Working with dyed silk thread split into extremely fine strands, embroiderers create images so finely detailed that they resemble paintings. Used as decorative wall hangings, Suzhou embroidery is sustained in part through formal training programs and commercial industry.

FESTIVAL PARTICIPANTS

Cai Meiying 蔡梅英 learned embroidery at a young age from women in her family and trained formally at the Suzhou Embroidery Research Center under master Wang Zhuzhi, and has been practicing this craft for more than thirty years. Her embroidery incorporates coloring from modern art, as well as Chinese classic embroidery techniques. She uses a special technique to dye the threads, which are made of silk. She has been featured in many national and local television programs, and plays an active role in training new generations of Suzhou embroiderers in Jiangsu Province.

From the Festival

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Cai Meiying works on an image based on a photograph. Photo courtesy of the artist

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"Masters of Embroidery"
Video by Kevin Trower, Montgomery College