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Embroidery traditions thrive in central China

2013-08-26 09:38:06

(China Daily) By Feng Zhiwei and Wen Xinzheng


A Dong master shows her brocade technique to her peers. Yang Shaoquan / For China Daily

Ancient art finds fertile soil in Hunan's remote regions

In the past, young girls in China had to learn needlework at a very early age because the ability was seen as the key to finding a good husband.

In most parts of the country, it seems the tradition has gone the way of the dinosaur, but in the remote areas of China's Hunan province, the tradition is still alive.

Ethnic peoples, such as the Tujia, the Miao, the Dong and the Yao, have dwelled in the west and south of Hunan for many generations. They have created several renowned textile crafts that are regarded as treasures of traditional Chinese culture.

For instance, there is a branch of the Yao ethnic group called Huayao - or "Flowery Yao" - because they are known for their special and colorful clothes as well as outstanding cross-stitch embroidery.

In a Huayao village located at the foot of a mountain in southwest Hunan, cross-stitch embroidery is still the most important skill for women.

"Normally from the age of 7 or 8, a Huayao girl has to learn counting threads, using needles and gradually grasping the cross-stitch embroidery techniques under the instruction of her mother or sisters," said Feng Xuemei, an inheritor of the Huayao cross-stitch embroidery craft.

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