When French Em­broi­dery Meets Han Em­broi­dery


Special Focus - - Contents - Zeng Pengling 曾鹏凌

Han em­broi­dery is a pop­u­lar genre of em­broi­dery in Jiang­han Plain, Cen­tral China’s Hubei Prov­ince, which was once a ter­ri­tory of the an­cient Chu State, and the ori­gin of Han em­broi­dery stretches back over 2500 years. Qu Yuan, the great ro­man­tic poet and politi­cian in his time once de­picted in his fa­mous poem “Sum­mons of the Soul” (Zhao Hun) in Vers­esofChu(Chu

Ci) that, “As if dec­o­rated with emer­alds and jew­elry, the ( Han) em­broi­dery on the quilt make it a bril­liant craft­work” and “In the (Han) em­broi­dery gar­ments, the beauty looks full of el­e­gance and no­bil­ity.” Sim­ple as the state­ment may be, it best voiced out the pros­per­ity of Han em­broi­dery in an­cient China. At present, Han em­broi­dery is turn­ing a new page in its in­ter­na­tional ex­change devel­op­ments, serv­ing as an im­por­tant tool for telling Chi­nese sto­ries.

Wang Ziyi, an in­her­i­tor of this cul­tural heritage, is one of the con­tem­po­rary mas­ters of Han em­broi­dery in Wuhan. She grew up in an em­broi­derer’s fam­ily. When she was young, Wang Ziyi fol­lowed in her par­ents’ foot­steps, study­ing Xiang em­broi­dery ( em­broi­der­ing art of Hu­nan Prov­ince, Cen­tral China) and Su em­broi­dery (em­broi­der­ing art of Jiangsu Prov­ince, Eastern China), but in the 1980s, she switched to Han em­broi­dery. Wang Ziyi has ac­com­plished many fine pieces, and her works from her 30 years of em­broi­der­ing are of both great artis­tic and aes­thetic value.

In June 2018, a French vis­i­tor, ea­ger to see Chi­nese Han em­broi­dery with her own eyes, flew from Lyon to Wuhan to visit the crafts­men of Han em­broi­dery. Mary­lene Eyral, now an haute cou­ture de­signer of Chanel, was born in an em­broi­derer’s fam­ily and grew up in Lyon, the Silk City of Europe. Her mother is an em­broi­dery artist, and her fa­ther is a silk crafts­man. Eyral learned a lot from her mother and nat­u­rally be­came an ex­cel­lent em­broi­derer. She also de­vel­oped a unique un­der­stand­ing of the art. Since she be­came a Chanel

de­signer, Eyral has been ad­dicted to the ex­plo­ration of beauty with silk and the charm­ing fem­i­nine se­crets of the em­broi­dery works, which pro­vided inspiration for her de­signs and in­no­va­tions.

One day Eyral hap­pened to come upon sev­eral pieces of works of Han em­broi­dery on­line, which fas­ci­nated her a lot. She im­me­di­ately put down her work and de­cided to fly to Wuhan, China, the city where Han em­broi­dery was born and is now ex­pe­ri­enc­ing its re­nais­sance. All of what she hoped was to find and see a top mas­ter of au­then­tic Han em­broi­dery. With the help of lo­cal gov­ern­ments, Eyral fi­nally met with Wang Ziyi, one of the in­her­i­tors of Han em­broi­dery. She was then in­vited to Wang Ziyi’s home and lived with her there. Soon Wang Ziyi in­tro­duced works of Han em­broi­dery to Eyral and shared with her the ex­pe­ri­ence of prac­tic­ing Han em­broi­dery.

As artists, they have some­thing in com­mon in the field of em­broi­dery de­spite their lan­guage bar­rier. The aes­thetic con­cepts of Han em­broi­dery and French em­broi­dery are quite sim­i­lar. Both styles em­pha­size the ro­man­tic ele­ment and dec­o­ra­tive func­tion. In ad­di­tion, the two dif­fer­ent styles of­ten have par­al­lels in de­sign, mod­el­ing, stitch­ing, and ma­te­ri­als. While dis­cussing the dif­fer­ences be­tween French em­broi­dery and Han em­broi­dery, Wang Ziyi showed Eyral the char­ac­ter­is­tic stitch­ing skills of Han em­broi­dery, which were quickly un­der­stood by Eyral. Eyral also men­tioned that the an­cient Chi­nese Silk Road brought silk ma­te­ri­als and prod­ucts to France, and even today the French silk in­dus­try ben­e­fits from old Chi­nese tech­niques and skills.

The 7-day visit came to an end so soon that both em­broi­der­ers were re­luc­tant to part. Full of emo­tion Eyral said that she was look­ing for­ward to her next visit to Wuhan. Mean­while, she in­vited Wang Ziyi to launch her Han em­broi­dery arts and crafts ex­hi­bi­tion in Lyon Mu­seum, France.

Be­fore meet­ing with Eyral, Wang Ziyi had vis­ited Ger­many, Swe­den, New Zealand, and other coun­tries ex­hibit­ing her fine works of Han em­broi­dery. At the be­gin­ning of this year, she went to 13 mid­dle schools in the United States to show­case and teach Han em­broi­dery. Now she hopes to visit France and have fur­ther dis­cus­sions on em­broi­dery with Eyral.

汉绣代表性传承人之一——王子怡Wang Ziyi, one of the in­her­i­tors of Han em­broi­dery

汉绣旗袍Cheongsam with Han em­broi­dery

A wooden book­shelf and pen con­tainer with Han em­broi­dery 汉绣木制书架笔筒

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