Guangdong Embroidery (Guangzhou Style and Chaozhou Style) 粤绣(广绣、潮绣)

Time: 2006
Category: Folk Art
Region: Guangdong Province
Ref. No.: VII-20
Nominating unit[s]:
Guangzhou city,Guangdong Province
Chaozhou city,Guangdong Province
As a folk embroidery style, Guangdong embroidery prevails across Guangzhou and its annexed territories in ancient times such as Nanhai, Panyu and Shunde, and has a history of more than 1000 years. It’s recorded in Duyang Miscellany (or Du Yang Za Bian) written by Su E in the Tang Dynasty that Lu Meiniang, a maid in Nanhai, was “so skillful that she could embroider Lotus Sutra in seven volumes on a tiny piece of one-chi (1/3 meter) silk fabric”.
Guangdong embroidery has formed its distinct style by taking advantage of shapes and texture of materials, and falls into four categories, i.e., silk embroidery, cannetille embroidery, thread embroidery and bead embroidery. Silk embroidery is made from natural silk, and it is a style which is very expressive, enjoys the longest history and retains a most complete technique among fellow embroideries. The needling technique of cannetille embroidery is quite unique, comprising over 60 types in 7 categories such as flat embroidery, knitting embroidery, winding embroidery, convex embroidery, padding embroidery, applique embroidery and brocade. And bead embroidery is a new type of Guangdong embroidery which is developed and applied by handicraftsmen of the craft in the last several decades.
Guangdong embroidery with a quite long history was originated in Guangdong Province. Chaozhou style made its debut in Chaozhou as early as the Tang Dynasty, and took a distinct form by the Ming Dynasty. Dragons, phoenixes, flowers, fowls and beasts, water life and human are the themes of Chaozhou embroidery, and the finished pieces were mainly used as daily necessities, sacrificial offerings, artistic works, and costume decorations. Its embroidery techniques can be divided into five kinds: embroidering, padding, appliquing, splicing and stitching. And, the needling techniques comprise over 200 types, including, Liujiao Sandie Tazhenjin, Dianmian Guojinzhen, Shuangdinglin, Dianxiu Juhuapanlin. The embroidery and needling techniques were creatively applied in many embroidery works, for example, the masterpiece of Chaozhou embroidery, Screen of Nine Dragons, have employed five embroidery techniques, and the Dingjin Dianfu embroidery unique to Chaozhou embroidery makes those dragons taking on a strikingly vivid look.
Guangdong embroidery distinguishes itself from other embroidery styles by varied needling techniques and even stitches. It can display textures of objects through various needling techniques. With a wide range of subjects and rich colors, Guangdong embroidery values the harmonious application of light and shadow and attaches great importance to the artistic effect of embroideries by using tools skillfully for art’s sake.
Guangdong embroidery is a crystallization of intellect and wisdom of craftsmen generation after generation. It is imbued with local features in artistic style and creativity since its development experiences were closely linked with the development path of Lingnan Culture. The well-known persons having good command of the craft include Huang Hong, Xu Liancheng, Yu De, Huang Mei, and Chen Heying. As worthy craftsmen passed away, some unique techniques of Guangdong embroidery have been getting now gradually lost. Ms. Chen Shaofang, the only living master of the craft, is approaching her 70s. Therefore, younger people are urgently needed to step into her shoes. Nowadays, with the continuous development of society and economy and rapid progress of science and technology, Guangdong embroidery, which relies on manual techniques to outflank the competitors, is severely dismayed by machine embroidery and computer embroidery. As a result, its market share is shrinking and it’s difficult for it to survive. In this sense, support and protection are in urgent need.

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