Narrative Made Embroideries, China

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Double-sided Blackwork

Textiles for the Miao are the very essence of language, a way to connect dialogues of the past to the present, a way to interact on a daily basis. It's natural then that Miao ladies are famous for their highly sophisticated needlework. Wan Mei Du from Guizhou organises the women in her village for blackwork embroidery, a cross-stitch technique that is uniquely designed to give the exact motifs on both sides of the cloth. With black thread against a white background, each embroidered headscarves or cuffs represent the Miao’s view of the universe, from the believed sacred space with rooster footprints and leaves of the oriental sweet gum tree to the surrounding ground filled with motifs taken from the mountains and fields of Guizhou. The piece on the right paints a picture of field of chili pepper flowers and cedar trees.

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Double-sided flat embroidery 

Wan Mei Du is also expert in double-sided flat embroidery, which is a delicate type of needlework. She has a strong eye for colours and stitches design. with her experience and knowledge passed down from generations, her work is almost impossible to tell the front side from the back. She has been commissioned to work on luxury custom made pieces.

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Satin Stitch

Miao are notably excellent at counted thread embroidery and working on cloth with the back side facing up, an impressive ability that illustrates a deeply ingrained knowledge of and familiarity with the textile’s physicality, technique and pattern. Zhang is a master embroider who mentors and leads a group of embroiders in Taijiang, Guizhou. She masters in satin stitches, which is created by counting thread. Look closer to the details! On this motif that represents flowers transforming into butterflies overnight, the little dots created with the lighter colour thread represent rows of chilli bearing next to the blossoming tree.