Cross-Stitch Work (Tiaohua Xiu)

Cross-Stitch Work (Tiaohua Xiu)

Tiaohua, or cross-stitch work, is usually used to decorate home textiles and women's attire. The techniques popular in Huangmei County of Hubei Province and Longhui County of Hunan Province have their own distinctive features.

Ⅰ. Huangmei cross-stitch work

Huangmei cross-stitch work was said to have originated in the Tang (618-907) and Song (960-1279) dynasties and become full-fledged at the end of the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). It boasts bright colors and refined patterns. In Huangmei, girls are supposed to learn needlework when very young, and those who cannot do cross-stitch work are looked down upon.

A threaded needle is used to cross-stitch various kinds of patterns on bedspreads, clothes, pillows, insoles, and square scarves. Among these embroidered articles, some square scarves have won prizes at several international expositions, winning worldwide fame.

It takes time to complete a piece, ranging from several days to a month, but it's not well paid. Consequently, less and less young women want to learn it.This art form is dying out and needs urgent protection.

Ⅱ. Huayao cross-stitch work

Huayao, literally Flowery Yao, is a branch of the Yao ethnic group. The long, straight skirts Yao girls in Longhui County of Hunan Province wear are usually decorated with bright cross-stitching patterns, hence the name.

There are over 7,000 Huayao people in the mountainous Longhui County. Huayao cross-stitch work is reputed to have originated as early as in the Han Dynasty (206 BC- 220 AD) and fully developed in the Ming and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties. Using navy blue or white cloth and colorful silk threads as material, people cross-stitch different patterns according to the natural grains of the cloth. The locals are so creative that there are as many as 1,000 patterns, which fall into four categories: animals, plants, history, and traditions. Among these, animal patterns are the most commonly used.

The artful design, refined coloring, and strong aesthetic appeal have won Huayao cross-stitch work nationwide fame. However, as more aged masters pass away and the amount of material is reduced, the art form is close to dying out and needs to be protected.