Development of Chinese Embroidery
Embroidery is a brilliant pearl in Chinese art. From the magnificent Dragon Robe worn by Emperors to the popular embroidery seen in today's fashions, embroidery adds so much pleasure to our life and our culture.
The oldest embroidered product in China on record dates from the Shang Dynasty. Embroidery in this period symbolized social status. It was not until later on, as the national economy developed, that embroidery entered the lives of the common people.
Through progress over Zhou Dynasty, the Han Dynasty witnessed a leap in embroidery in both technique and art style. Court embroidery was set and specialization came into being. The patterns of embroidery covered a larger range, from sun, moon, stars, mountains, dragons, and phoenix to tiger, flower and grass, clouds and geometric patterns. Auspicious words were also fashionable. Both historic records and products of the time proved this. According to the records, all the women in the capital of Qi (today's Linzi, Shandong) were able to embroider, even the stupid were adept at it! They saw and practiced it everyday so naturally they became good at it. The royal family and aristocrats had everything covered with embroidery-even their rooms were decorated with so much embroidery that the walls could not be seen! Embroidery flooded their homes, from mattresses to beddings, from clothes worn in life time to burial articles.
The authentic embroideries found in Mawangdui Han Tomb are best evidence of this unprecedented proliferation of embroidery. Meanwhile, unearthed embroideries from Mogao Caves in Dunhuang , the Astana-Karakhoja Ancient Tombs in Turpan and northern Inner Mongolia further strengthen this observation.