History of Xiang Embroidery

Xiang embroidery, also known as Hunan embroidery, refers to the hand embroidery work produced in Changsha area in Hunan province China. Hunan is called Xiang for short. That’s why hand embroidery produced in Hunan is called Xiang embroidery. Xiang embroidery is world famous for its complicated embroidery techniques and a long history. Archeologists have discovered finely embroidered silk items in Changsha Mawangdui Han Toms (206BC-220AD), indicating that Xiang embroidery work had emerged more than 2,000 years ago. During the long process of development, Xiang embroidery adopted the techniques used in traditional Chinese painting and formed its own unique style. By the end of the Qing Dynasty (the early 20th century), the embroidery techniques of Xiang embroidery reached its peak and even took the leading position and surpassed Su embroidery which is now widely acknowledged as the finest silk embroidery in China. Tigers are the most common-seen embroidery patterns in Xiang embroidery. Xiang embroidery's unique techniques are generally based on Chinese painting, although it also includes techniques of engraving, calligraphy and embroidery.

xiang embroidery tiger

Embroidery tiger, the most often-made silk embroidery in Xiang embroidery

xiang embroidery tigers

Five tigers silk embroidery

chinese embroidery tiger

Close up of Xiang tiger embroidery

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