Chinese Embroidery Masterpieces Impressed Visitors at Jordan's Show in 2007

Among visitors in front of a traditional Chinese embroidery masterpiece named "Sunset over the Dead Sea," 80-year-old Asma was the most eye-catching. With a crutch in her right hand, she stared at the works, mumbling "great" and ignoring words of her friends nearby.

    Coming from the Iraqi capital Baghdad for a short visit to the Jordanian capital, she fortunately ran into Chinese Embroidery Masterpieces Exhibition, which was staged in the Royal Culture Center in central Amman on Wednesday.
    "You don't know how lucky I am. My friends know I like these art staffs and tell me about the exhibition, so I come here," said Asma in a shawl-pattern shirt and a long black skirt.
    Being informed that the double-sided embroidery took one-year of needlecraft, she could not help opening her mouth.
    "I was really astonished at the Chinese art," she said. "Each one is better than the other and each detail reflects how delicate it is."
    Her friend Anisa Saadoun, 76, said she was also deeply impressed. "Unbelievable they are hand-made. Since they can do these, they can do everything," said Saadoun.
    Though she has seen Chinese embroidery before in her homeland, Nanda Mohottala, wife of the Sri Lankan ambassador in Amman, was still surprised at the exhibition.
    In blue saree (traditional Sri Lankan dress), Mohottala walked around the exhibition hall and examined every pieces carefully. Skilled and delicate were the exact words she most wanted to say.
    There are 60 works presented in the exhibition hall, which fall into different categories and styles, including single-sided, double-sided, flat, crisscross and cut silk.
    These works, which are reproductions of the masterpieces of renowned painters, demonstrate the delicacy and elegance of Suzhou embroidery, one of the four main embroidery styles of China.
    Zhao Liya, senior assistant crafts master with China's Suzhou Embroidery Research Institute, said, "Suzhou embroidery is quite unique with its beautiful pattern, harmonious color, lively stitching and exquisite craftsmanship."
    Suzhou embroidery dates back to more than 2,000 years ago. It was produced in a large scale during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). In the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Suzhou embroidery had become well-known for its unique feature of being intricate, elegant and neat.
    In the late 19th century, Master Shen Shou, by combining Chinese traditions and essences of the Western painting, created the technique of "verisimilar embroidery." In the 1930s, Professor Yang Shouyu made a breakthrough on the traditions of embroidery and invented the "crisscross stitch" technique.
    Embroidery is a time-consuming handwork, said Zhao, who has engaged in embroidery production for 28 years. Pointing at the works she was making on the scene to demonstrate the art, she said it would cost her two months to make the palm-sized peony in full bloom.
    Through the whole night of the exhibition launched jointly by the culture ministries of China and Jordan, Zhao was surrounded by visitors who were keen to see how to stitch with a silk thread as thin as a hair and a two-centimeter-long needle.
    "Almost all of them ask one question (that) how can I remember where the next stitch should be," Zhao said.
    Cecilia Villa, wife of the Filipine counsellor general in Amman, is no exception. Watching Zhao stitching carefully for about ten minutes, Villa seemed eager to have a try.
    She pinched the needle with her forefinger and thumb, but didn't move finally. "It is too delicate to have a try," she said. "I am afraid I will spoil it."
    Another question frequently asked was the price of the exhibits.
    Dr. Gullanar Al-Jeboori, a professor in solar energy with the German-Jordanian University, is one of the dozens who are willing to buy. She, along with her two sons, decided to take one piece home after seeing all the exhibits.
    "They are beautiful and excellent," said her eldest son Mohammed.
    Ali Quba'a, general manager of the Amman-based Quba'a Advertisement Co., even went directly to ask the organizer of the exhibition where to buy a piece of Chinese embroidery after being told the exhibits are not sold.
    "I really love the art and I want to keep one at home," Quba'a said, adding that he has never seen this amazing art before.
    The exhibition, which will close on Oct. 30, has attracted over200 visitors during the first hour of its appearance, organizers said.
    According to the organizers, China has successfully held such Chinese embroidery exhibitions in Europe and Asia, and ongoing exhibition in Amman is the first one in the Middle East.
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