Shu embroidery is a relatively recent (by Chinese
standards) Chinese embroidery style, having been developed
around the middle of the Qing dynasty (1644-1911). One of the four great Chinese embroidery styles, Shu
embroidery was developed in and around the city of Shengdu
in Sichuan province. Although
what we now think of as the Shu style matured in the Qing
dynasty the Sichuan area has a history of producing
embroidery that dates back several hundred years, and Shu embroidery is considered to be one of the end products of
the evolution of this long history.
With many natural subjects depicted in colorful
threads, Shu embroidery is mostly concerned with showing the
joys of life, and has been used in many different pieces,
both practical and decorative.
embroidery have been discovered in the Sichuan province
dating from more than 2,000 years ago.
Fish have been among the most popular subjects for
embroiderers from Sichuan; one account from the Western Han
dynasty (202 B.C. – 9 A.D.) tells of the intricate
detailing of a carp taking more than a month for an
embroiderer to complete. The production of embroidery was first done by males, but
over the years it has passed to young women.
The Shu embroidery which matured during the Qing
dynasty, which is also called Chuan embroidery, is still
produced in China today and has been widely exported to
countries all over the world.
embroidery is typically done on the soft satin fabric
produced in Sichuan province. It uses brightly colored
threads, evenly stitched to produce a delicate picture or
embroidery is particularly characterized by the closeness of
its stitching, which allows Shu embroiderers to highlight
miniscule details in the subjects they produce. A Shu embroidered piece may include hundreds of thousands of
stitches in a single figure or animal, and may take many
days or even weeks to complete. One
of the most popular subjects for Shu embroiderers is the
panda bear, but scenes of nature of any kind are common.
The fish which engrossed embroiderers from Sichuan in
ancient times are still often seen, as are close-ups of
plants, landscapes, and detailed looks at many animals.
embroidery is used for both artistic pieces and for objects
which may be used every day.
Quilts, sheets, slippers, or clothes may be
embroidered in the Shu style, lending color and beauty to
the wearer. Equally
enjoyable are art pieces produced in the Shu style.
These may include wall hangings, screens for
separating rooms, or curtains. The rich color and vibrant images found in Shu embroidery are
meant to remind the viewer (or wearer) of the joy which can
be found in any living thing; it is perhaps because of this
joy that Shu embroidery remains popular to this day.