Cantonese Embroidery, also known as Yue Embroidery, is one of the four most famous embroideries in China. Yi Embroidery is a handicraft popular among Yi minorities in southwest China. These two embroidery crafts, both being national intangible cultural heritages with unique regional characteristics are integrated to create a prosperous life for people in Liangshan, Sichuan Province.
With the one-to-one support from Shunde District, Foshan City, Guangdong Province, the First Embroidery Art Workshop of Meigu County, Liangshan, Sichuan has recruited women embroidery workers of the Yi nationality since December 2019. Under the guidance of Cantonese Embroidery masters, they integrated Cantonese Embroidery with Yi Embroidery, realizing employment on the doorstep.
"Villagers are paid by pieces. They can choose to work at the workshop, or take materials home and embroide in their spare time, thus generating income without migrating to big cities", said Wu Hong, project manager of The First Embroidery Art Workshop of Meigu County and the Joint Poverty Alleviation Workshop (Foshan-Aided). Wu told us the workshop can take more than 100 workers embroidering at the same time. At present, there are about 40 women workers in the workshop, 30 of whom are "regulars" of the workshop.
"You can learn skills and get employed on your doorstep!" said Hailai Erxi, a young woman of the Yi nationality from Meigu County who lives in Niuniuba Village. After getting married last year, she returned to her hometown and focused on taking care of her newborn baby. "We used to live on raising pigs and chickens." Hailai Erxi said, "Now that I have mastered the skill of embroidering, I can earn about 2,000 yuan every month. Life is worth expecting."
海来尔西 Hailai Erxi
Many local women know the basics of Yi Embroidery, so "they can quickly grasp the skill of Yue Embroidery. It takes young workers a few days to master the skill while older ones ten days or longer.” Li Fuxin, the standing member of Meigu County Committee and deputy head of Meigu County said. At present, the Cantonese Embroidery training class has been successfully held for three times. In order to attract more people to the workshop, Meigu County Culture and Tourism Investment Company set up a monthly attendance award of 200 yuan this April and offered local employment subsidies to improve local people’s income and alleviate poverty.
The exhibition hall displays the finished embroideries with delicate stitches and beautiful patterns. Yi Embroidery is rich in patterns and colors with unique artistic and ethnic characteristics. Integrating the Cantonese Embroidery techniques with Yi Embroidery patterns and images of ethnic traditions such as bullfighting, cockfighting and the Torch Festival, workers have produced exquisite mobile phone covers, handkerchiefs, clothes and other handicrafts which enjoy great popularity in the market.
Shunde enterprises not only donate embroidery frames, offer needles, threads and other materials to the workshop, but also provide embroidery patterns and skillful teachers to train the workers. In addition, they collect embroidery products from the workers for post-production and sales, so that the hand-made embroidery products can find and secure their markets.
Next, the workshop will cooperate with major e-commerce platforms to make network live broadcasts. "The live broadcast booth has been set up, expected to be put into use in October. We hope to create local Internet celebrities to explore a broader market for the embroidery products." Wu Hong said.
知多D Fast facts
Cantonese Embroidery refers to embroidery practiced in Guangfu area in the Qing Dynasty, including the ancient Guangzhou, Shunde, Panyu and Nanhai areas. There are more than 30 embroidering stitches, falling into 7 major categories, all of balanced composition and vivid images. According to different materials used, Cantonese Embroidery can be divided into silk embroidery, gold and silver thread embroidery, thread embroidery and bead embroidery.