China

China

Gu embroidery is a style of Chinese decorative needlework that originated during the late Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) and was very popular well into the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). The embroidery is worked with fine floss silk thread in various colours on a silk background.

Han Chinese women's foot binding is a traditional form of foot manipulation associated with China, and with the Han Chinese in particular. The aim of the footbinding was to create a very small foot by manipulating and if necessary breaking the bones in a young girl’s feet. A feature of foot binding was the wearing of very small shoes (the 'lotus shoes') that were often embroidered, in order to emphasise the smallness of the wearer’s feet.

The Liaoning Provincial Museum (Chinese: trad. 遼寧省博物館, simp. 辽宁省博物馆, Liáoníngshěng Bówùguǎn) is located in Shenyang, Liaoning Province, China. It focuses on history and art. It was established under another name in 1949, and received its present appellation in 1959. It moved into its present new premises in 2003.

The soles of lotus shoes (small shoes for bound feet of Chinese women) were sometimes made of layered cotton (rather than wood).

For many centuries, Han Chinese women used to bind their feet and put them into tiny shoes, generally called lotus shoes. There were various types of lotus shoes, such as day-time shoes and boots, wedding or bridal shoes, sleeping or night socks, separate heels, bad weather forms, gift shoes, mourning shoes, as well as funeral shoes.

'Painting with Threads: Chinese Tapestry and Embroidery, 12th–19th Century' was the title of a small exhibition (called installation in American parlance) displaying a small selection from the Museum holdings of Chinese tapestries and embroideries. The exhibition ran from late 2014 to the summer of 2015. 

A pair of nineteenth century lotus shoes is housed in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London. They are made of silk, cotton and wood. The shoes show traces of wear, and were therefore probably used, rather than made for the tourist market. The shoes are 16 cm long, 5 cm wide and 8 cm high and were probably worn by a bride.

The Textile Research Centre, Leiden, the Netherlands, houses a paper template (30 x 32 cm) for embroidery, from among the Miao ethnic minority in southern China. The template dates to the early twenty-first century.

The Victoria and Albert Museum in London houses a sari with a silk ground material in black. The sari (115 x 546 cm) is decorated with silk thread embroidery in white, magenta and yellow, using satin stitch and stem stitch.

The kurgans of Pazyryk, in the Altai mountains of southern Siberia, yielded the burials of noblemen who had been buried there in the fourth and third centuries BC. The tombs included many textiles, including Chinese silks with embroideries. The first of the barrows (kurgans) was excavated in 1929; others were studied between 1947 and 1949 by Sergei Ivanovich Rudenko.

'The prophecy of Calchas' is the name given to a large hanging now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. It probably dates to the late sixteenth century, and was likely made in China (Macao?). It measures 375 x 498 cm and is made of a cotton ground material with silk and gilt paper wrapped embroidery thread (Japanese thread) and with painted decorations.

The Textile Research Centre in Leiden houses an embroidered rank badge or panel, from late nineteenth century China. It measures 31 x 29 cm and is made of a silk ground material and silk and metal thread embroidery, with applied coral beads.

'Riding a Crane over a Beautiful Terrace' or ' Riding a Crane over Yaotai' is an embroidered picture based on a painting. It was worked during the Southern Song Dynasty (1127-1279) and used a plethora of different techniques, including consecutive stitch, darning, knot stitch, mixed straight stitch, net stitch, pine-needle stitch, random stitch, stem stitch, and couching.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art houses a ritual diadem (guan) from China, which dates to the late fifteenth century. It is made of gilded paper with silk embroidery. It measures 29 x 58 cm.

'The sacrifice of Polyxena' is the name given to a large hanging now in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. It probably dates to the late sixteenth century, and was likely made in China (Macao?). It measures 381 x 523 cm and is made of a cotton ground material with silk and gilt paper wrapped embroidery thread (Japanese thread) and with painted decorations.

The Los Angeles County Museum of Art houses a hanging showing Shakyamuni Buddha and the eighteen arhats. It measures 105 x 75 cm and dates to the nineteenth century and derives from eastern Tibet. It is made of silk with silk thread embroidery.

Shu xiu (蜀绣) or Sichuan embroidery originates from the area around Chengdu, in Sichuan Province. It has a centuries-old history. It is based on the use of coloured silk and satin cloth. It is marked by its even stitching and subtle colours. The general closeness of the stitches allows for embroidering intricate details. It is used to decorate pillow cases, shoes, quilt covers, garments, and screens.

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