Chinese embroidery was well established domestically by the time it garnered a highly regarded international reputation along the silk route more than two millennia ago. Embroidered embellishments linked both the powerful and the meek to Heaven, Earth and each other with eloquent symbols of authority and good fortune. What shaped its practice and development?
This presentation will reference material and textural evidence from historic Chinese sources and make comparisons with Western experience to explore major social, religious, political and economic circumstances that influenced the development of embroidery styles and stitches in China. A brief overview of embroidery practices from pre-imperial times, through the reforms of the Southern Song, until the end of dynastic rule, will provide a historic perspective before considering today’s circumstances. There will be a glimpse at replicas from antiquity. In conclusion, we will consider the difference between reproductions and forgeries.
Diana Collins is a textile conservator with interests in the production of Chinese textiles. For over 25 years she has conserved textiles from private, museum and commercial collections in her textile conservation practice in Hong Kong. She taught the textiles conservation component of integrated art conservation and restoration certificate courses at The Hong Kong University’s SPACE and has lectured on this subject and the history of Chinese textiles in China, Southeast Asia, Australia and the U.S. She is a contributing editor of HALI magazine and has written articles and reviews for 'Arts of Asia' and 'Orientations' magazines. Collins conceived and coordinated the first international conference on the history of Chinese textiles, “Chinese Textiles: Technique, Design and Patterns of Use” which was held in Hong Kong in 1995 in conjunction with the Oriental Ceramic Society exhibition “Heaven’s Embroidered Cloth”.