Shu Brocade: the Art of Stitching

Authors: Go Chengdu

2015-06-08

Chengdu, reputed as the “Land of Abundance,” has a history of more than 2,000 years of hand-woven brocade craft.
The Chengdu Shu Brocade and Embroidery Museum, which is adjacent to the Huanhuaxi Park in the west of downtown Chengdu, is a treasure house of gorgeous silk weavings including screens, garments, handkerchiefs and pillow covers, and an array of ancient looms.

Chengdu, reputed as the “Land of Abundance,” has a history of more than 2,000 years of hand-woven brocade craft. Since Sichuan is called “Shu” for short, the brocade produced in Chengdu, the capital city of Sichuan, is known as the Shu Brocade. It is endowed with rich cultural and artistic connotation with a high value of appreciation and collection.

As one of the most important intangible cultural heritages in China, the Shu Brocade is one of the most famous Four Chinese Brocades, which also include Song (Suzhou), Yun (Nanjing) and Zhuang (Guangxi) brocades.

The Shu Brocade has a history of more than 2, 000 years. The history of sericiculture and silk handcrafts in China can be traced back to the ancient Sichuan, which is the cradle of Chinese silk. The earliest record of the Shu Brocade was in the Spring and Autumn Period (770 - 476BC).

By the Warring States Period (475-221 BC), the Shu Brocade had become an important export commodity, for which the famous South Silk Road was blazed from Chengdu to the Middle East via Yunnan, Myanmar, India and Europe.

From the unification of China in the Qin Dynasty (221 BC - 207 BC), the Shu Brocade gradually spread throughout China. In the Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD), Sichuan silk cloth became so popular that almost every nobleman in the country had a suit made from it and the central government appointed a special officer in Chengdu to supervise the brocade weaving industry, which is why Chengdu is also known as the “City of the Brocade Officer (锦官城)”.
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