Foshan China 2017-07-24
Do you think that these are paintings or photos? They are Canton Embroidery, one of the four famous embroideries in China.
These lifelike embroidery works are made by a group of ingenious “embroidery women”, of whom 61-year-old Ruan Xian’e is the most experienced and skillful. She holds a 2 centimeters long and 0.5 millimeter thick needle, quickly sticks it into the canvas in front of her, pulls it out on the other side, and repeats this process again and again. It seems to be simple but it takes years of practice and million times of repetitions to accomplish. A single mistake can ruin all previous efforts.
Ruan Xian’e is the representative inheritor of Canton Embroidery, one of Guangdong province intangible cultural heritages. She has started to do embroidery since 17 years old and she is still working in Shunde Fu’de Handiwork Co Ltd after retirement.
The double sided embroidery cape The Garden of Moor has a market price of more than 300 thousand yuan ($44.38 thousand).
This shawl sold to Spain took four months to design. Every petal shows the proudest skills of embroiderers.
The left space among different intertwined patterns is called “Shui Lu”. In the narrow space that is only several millimeters wide, “Shui Lu” has to be clear and well-distributed so as to show flowers and leaves in distinctive levels, which is an effect that modern machines cannot make and a new apprentice has to spend 3 to 5 years to learn.
Some people think that doing embroidery in 44 years is boring, but Ruan said, “Embroidery is my only interest and my only work. I still want to do it at weekends.”
The Birds Paying Homage to the Phoenix made by Ruan Xian’e achieved national gold award in 1982.
Ruan Xian’e has practiced many skills in her career and cultivated generations of disciples. She innovated “double sided embroidery” with her students.
Besides talent, it is more important to learn embroidery with patience and perseverance. “Many people want to learn but they give up without persistence for a long time.” Nowadays, Ruan is working hard to make more young people know about Canton Embroidery.