Artwork: Miao Baby Carrier
Design No: CH1010 (B)
Embroidery Style: Jiao Xiu, Po Xian Xiu, Ping Xui
Era: Nationalist Republic Era (circa 1920)
Framed Dimensions:
755mm x 605mm
Reference Material: Zhong Tao, Miao Xiu Miao Jin, p.50.

The Story behind the Artwork

The classic book Qian Shu written by Tian Wen during the Qing dynasty characterised Zhijin County in Bijie District, Guizhou, as the home of the ‘Flower Miao’ because of the unique style of intricate floral patterned embroidery worn on the sleeves of their garments. The Nationalist Republic Era was a time of social and political upheaval in China following the collapse of more than two thousand years of dynastic rule.

This rare work has been handed down the generations and is in remarkable condition. The overall symmetrical floral motif is unusual and represents the embroiderer’s artistic and technical skill. The embroidery style is very complex and time consuming and would take upwards of one year to complete. Initially the work appears random but upon closer inspection the background of what seem to be irregularly shaped floral patterns with three rows of circular flowers proves to be carefully designed and executed, giving the work an air of sophistication and subtlety. Radiating from the centre of each of the floral motifs is a continuous line of embroidery depicting the petals of the flower. You can see that that the line is unbroken, beginning from the centre of the flower then looping back to end where it began. The unbroken line represents the concept of a unified world and expresses the rich imagination of Miao spiritual beliefs.

The changing social structure in rural China is weakening many of cultural traditions as the older generations slowly pass away and the young move to the cities to seek employment in modern construction or industry. Younger generations struggle to see the relevance of ancient crafts in the contemporary world. This work is an exceptional example of the embroidery of the Flower Miao which is increasingly becoming hard to find.