Tujia Embroidery

Updated: Nov 26, 2019 Print
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Tujia Embroidery is a handcraft technique of Tujia women, which is mainly spread in Yongding district (the main Tujia minority settlement), Sangzhi county, Cili county, and Wulingyuan district.

The history of Tujia Embroidery can date back to the creation of homespun cloth on which the Tujia embroidery is made. Yongding Tujia Embroidery has a profound history and has been handed down for many generations.

The evidence supporting this fact is a door eave "Safety Gives Bless" from the middle and late period of Qing Dynasty and it was collected by Yongding District Antiquities Management Bureau in the early 1980s from the local.

Yongding Tujia Embroidery is the representative of "女红nǚ hōng" (needlework done by women). The basic process is to cut out the pattern and then mark out the pattern on the cloth. Tujia women created "Nine Stitches Thirteen Ways", the ancient way of stitching.

They use simple black and white threads and five colorful threads to embroider mountains, water, people, objects, insects, and flowers on various daily use items, such as wallets, pouches, head scarfs, curtains, and quilt covers. The patterns are often exaggerated and transformed, which is highly artistic, decorative, and practical. Tujia Embroidery is a valuable Tujia traditional handcraft technique.

The significant value of Tujia Embroidery:

1. Tujia Embroidery is the specific reflection of Tujia history and culture and a vivid reflection of humanity and art. It has unique national research value.

2. Tujia Embroidery is unique, colorful, rich in patterns, and exquisite. It is a treasure of national handcraft technique.

3. Tujia Embroidery shows the traditional artistic appreciation of a nation and is the product of Tujia women's diligence and wisdom.

4. Tujia Embroidery has changed from past practicality to current decorative feature, which is determined by the development of economy and society. With the development of tourism in Zhangjiajie, tourism products based on natural scenery and exotic customs are naturally produced. Tujia Embroidery has become an indispensable decorative art in life and has great collection value.

5. Tujia Embroidery has a high social value. It has a far-reaching value regarding recognizing national culture, maintaining national unity, and strengthening cultural exchange.

Current situation of Tujia Embroidery:

1. Due to various reasons such as the change of production ways and lifestyle and the impact of foreign cultures, the inheritance from mother to daughter and from generation to generation is gone. The preliminary report shows that there is only less than 60 old artists who can embroider traditional patterns in Yongding District.

2. The ancient ways of stitching are losing. Young people who like to embroider favor cross-stitch instead of these ancient ways. The number of old artists who can stitch a complete "Nine Stitches and Thirteen Ways" is less than 30. Therefore, it is vital to preserve the ancient stitching skills.

3. The traditional basic techniques, cutting the pattern and marking out the pattern, are faced with the lack of inheritors. Talents who can design patterns are scarce and the quality of work and the techniques need to be improved.

4. Young people tend to go out to work and do not have much interest in inheriting national handcraft technique. Fewer people are willing to learn Tujia Embroidery.

5. Tujia Embroidery takes much time and has low economic benefits. This makes Tujia Embroidery lose its growth environment and is left to die on its own.

In October 2016, Tujia Embroidery was listed as a provincial intangible cultural heritage item by Hunan Provincial Government.

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