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Su Embroidery

Su Embroidery

Su embroidery is short for Suzhou embroidery which was named after its place of origin. In history, it was widely known in Suzhou in Jiangsu Province. In recent decade, Su embroidery industry is gradually shrinking. Today, it is centered in areas within Suzhou city, Dongzhu Town and Zhenhu Street of high-tech Zone.  

The origin of Su embroidery remains unknown. The existing Su embroideries from Song Dynasty reflect its development and actual levels of techniques of different historical periods. For instance, relics of Su embroidery of Yuan Dynasty present a work with nine types of embroidery methods. In Ming Dynasty, embroidery works were drew by educated people so that exquisite, elegant and unique styles were formed. In the Qing Dynasty, Su embroidery had become an industry. Embroidery used for product was very developed so that Suzhou was known as “embroidery city”. During the years of empire Daoguan, a female named Ding Pei of Suzhou city summarized the technique of embroidery and completed the Chinese first embroidery professional book which was titled, General Information of Embroidery. In the late Qing Dynasty and early Min Dynasty, a famous Su embroidery crafts man named Shen Shou invented “Stimulation embroidery” and dictated General Information of Xueguan Embroidery in his late years, summarizing the experiences of embroidery. In the 1930s, a famous Su embroidery crafts man named Yang Shouyu invented “Regular embroidery” that enriched and widened subjects on Su embroidery. In the 1950s, research institution of Su embroidery was established and many talents were gathered and improved. The traditional methods of embroidery, studied and created various methods of embroidery and needling, improving the techniques of Su embroidery over time. 

Since Min Dynasty, many masters and schools of Su embroidery emerged. Today, confirmed and influential inheritors can be divided into three categories. 

One is traditional fine embroidery, the other is “Stimulation embroidery” created by Shen Shou and the final is a “Regular embroider” created by Yang Shouyu. All three schools have abundant and changeable adaptation, full and systematic techniques and traditional sense of painting and calligraphy and profound local color. 

Su embroidery is always the most representative type of art in Suzhou. It is one of many important values to researches of industrial art history, folklore and women’s studies. With the development of modern commodity economy and scientific technology, computer embroidery technology has been widely applied. Under this circumstance, developing space for Su embroidery is declining. Moreover, Su embroidery inheritors with excellent techniques and qualities are becoming less and less. Su embroidery is now facing the danger of inheritance and urgently needs to be rescued and protected.