Embroidery Tradition in Suzhou

Suzhou has a clean and quiet environment. The people live a comfortable life and have creative ideas. Needlework is a skill learned by all women, whether rich or poor. It is even required knowledge for the girls of wealthy families. Pill cases, handkerchiefs, embroidered shoes and dowry items must all be done by the girls themselves. The meticulous attention to detail and deftness of the girls in Suzhou were naturally blended into the needlework. Such quality led to the emergence of the elegant boudoir embroidery from the region.

During the Ming Dynasty, Suzhou embroidery was known for its meticulous care, elegance and neatness. It has beautiful designs, elegant colors, lively stitches and carefully crafted needlework. The fine or poor skills of the young female embroiderers became the main criteria for judging the girls’ moral character. According to traditional customs, if a girl could not do embroidery, she would be jeered at and quite likely not find a good husband.
As children, girls of poor families were taught to embroider their own articles for daily use. Young girls were obliged to embroider their dowry items and used their embroidered pieces in exchange for money to help their families. Some sold their embroidery to make a living.
There were women embroiderers in all towns and villages in Suzhou area. They either sold their own work individually or worked for embroidery shops. Every household had an embroidery frame, and every family did embroidery. Mothers taught their daughters, sisters taught and helped each other, and sisters-in-law taught their younger sisters-in-law.
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