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Chinese Embroidery Joins Hands With Western Paintings 

chinese embroidery resembles western oil painting

Every art lover knows the big names Gustav Klimt, Pierre Auguste Renoir, Edgar Degas and Giovanni Segantini - but few can remember the names of men and women who devoted their lives to the art of traditional Chinese silk embroidery. 

Fewer still can imagine what it would be like to use the embroidery to do Western style pictures. 

At the show "East Meets West, Modern Art in Oriental Handcrafted Silk Embroidery," which has just ended in Shanghai, scores of embroidery works were on display, all of which are considered to be masterpieces. 

"It took more than two years for a master embroiderer to make a Western picture," said Yu Jinglu, organizer of the show. "Sometimes it is very complicated." 

Yu had the idea for a show when she did some embroidery pieces of the works by Ting Shao Kuang, a renowned painter now living in the United States. "They were marvelous," recalled Yu. 

Chinese traditional silk embroidery has a history spanning more than 2,000 years. 

The complicated process involves various embroidery techniques, such as tracing, color matching and cross-stitching. 

Sometimes a length of ordinary silk thread has to be split into 10 to 16 strands in order to show detail. 

According to Yu, some works on the display were first presented in Los Angeles to the acclaim of the Americans. "I prepared magnifying-glasses for visitors, who were amazed at such elaborate works." 

In East and South China, girls begin to learn needlework at the age of five or six. "But nowadays, fewer and fewer of them are involved in this traditional profession, making the current pieces of embroidery even more valuable." 

Seen from a distance, few can tell the difference between a silk painting and an oil-painting except that the former is more brightly colored. 

"Not all Western paintings are fit for embroidery, because silk may not reflect the shades of colors you see in an oil-painting," commented Yu. 

Now she is racking her brains to give a name to this art as the embroidery involves more than one style in more than one place. "I would be proud to call it Chinese embroidery, as it is more than a folk or local art," said Yu excitedly. 

(China Daily 12/04/2000) 


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