By: Escenery

Chinese embroidery,essential of traditional Chinese arts,representing Chinese silk art as Needle Painting Chinese embroidery, known throughout the world, has a long history as a Chinese art form. Although it is difficult to pinpoint precisely when embroidery was first practiced in China, based on archaeological excavations, it can be traced back to the Shang dynasty (1600 BC~1027 BC).

China was the first country in the world to weave silk, which forms a quintessential part of Chinese embroidery. Silkworms were domesticated as early as 5,000 years ago and the production of silk threads and fabrics gave rise to the art of needlework.

In 1958, a piece of silk embroidered with a dragon and phoenix was discovered in the Chu tomb of the Warring Sates Period (475-221BC). It is the earliest piece of Chinese embroidery, ever unearthed, that is more than 2,000 years old.

There are four main styles of embroidery in China: Su, Xiang, Yue and Shu styles.

The history of Su embroidery, which is one of the most famous embroidery styles in China, has spanned more than 2,000 years, mainly due to its delicacy.

Original Chinese Embroidery is made entirely by hand. A needle is used to pull coloured threads through the background fabric on which the design, which highlights the main theme of the picture, is previously drawn. The silk is stretched on a frame instead of a loom.

Chinese embroidery requires an infinite amount of patience and skill. The stitching requires delicate abilities, which are learned by embroiderers. One thin silk thread is normally divided into up to 48 strands, each of which is barely visible to the naked eye. In other words, the ability to use silk threads and the mixture of stitching skills guarantee superb quality in the embroidered product.

In ancient China, girls were taught to embroider. A male's intelligence was judged by his technique in calligraphy whilst a female's was judged by her needlework skills. After her engagement, a girl had to present pieces of embroidery to all the relatives and friends of her fianc�, for their critical appraisal. The purpose of this was to determine her embroidery skills. If her techniques were very developed, she would be considered to have the ability to manage the entire housekeeping, and therefore be a good wife.

Elegant embroidery was used particularly for royal members in ancient China. Chinese emperors wore embroidery on their ceremonial robes and decorated their curtains, carpets and even their bedcovers with it. Embroidery was the main product transported along the ancient Chinese "Silk Road", as it is known nowadays, to Europe.

Despite the numerous advances in recent centuries, the art of embroidery, which fully embodies the value of traditional Chinese culture, still lives on, as embroidery combines the essence of painting and calligraphy with present traditional Chinese culture. Embroidery is now used for decoration, fashion and other items in daily use.

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