Chengdu Shu Brocade

 Chengdu Shu Brocade

Chengdu, also known as "the land of abundance," has a history of more than 2,000 years of hand-woven brocade craft. Since Sichuan Province is called "Shu" for short, the brocade produced in Chengdu but famous throughout China is known as Shu brocade.


The history of sericiculture and silk handcrafts in China can be traced back to ancient Sichuan, which is the cradle of Chinese silk. The earliest record of Shu brocade was in the Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 BC). By the Warring States Period (475-221 BC), Shu brocade had become an important export, for which a famous trade route was blazed from Chengdu to the Middle East via Yunnan, Burma, India and Pakistan, which is known now as the "Southern Silk Road."

After the Qin (221-207 BC) united China, Shu brocade gradually spread throughout China. In the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD), Sichuan silk cloth became so popular that almost everyone in the country had a suit made from it and the central government appointed a special Brocade Officer in Chengdu to supervise the industry, which is why Chengdu is also known as the 'city of the brocade officer'.

Shu brocade reached its peak during the Tang, Song, and Yuan dynasties, with more designs, patterns, and colors used.

The Tang Dynasty (618-907) witnessed the most prosperous period for China's silk industry. The Shu brocade of this time represented the top level of ancient Chinese handcrafted silk. Orchid Pavilion Prelude, a piece of brocade decorated with calligraphic works, was presented to the emperor as a tribute and kept as a treasure in the royal palace.

In the Song Dynasty (960-1279), a royal brocade workshop was set up in Chengdu, and in the Ming and Qing dynasties, Shu brocade girdles were presented to distinguished foreign guests as royal souvenirs.


This brocade, soft and colorfully flamboyant, is one of the four best and most famous brocades in China.Predominantly using red, Shu brocade has a variety of designs, fully reflecting the flowery nature of Shu culture.

Shu brocade is woven on a floral-hollowing loom, and uses traditional techniques, including pattern design, cross-stitching, coiling, and weaving.


Several hundred varieties of Shu brocade have developed over more than 20 centuries of development.

Shu brocade is one of the most important cultural heritages in China and is the most well known of the Famous Four Chinese Brocades, which include the Song (Suzhou), Yun (Nanjing), Zhuang brocades (Guangxi). It has become an integral part of the ornament of women in the ethnic groups of southwestern China.

However, the handmade brocade, a witness of ancient trade and cultural exchange along the Southern Silk Road, has given way to modern textile industries and there is only one factory remaining in the city that specializes in making Sichuan brocade.