Artwork: Wenshan Miao Baby Carrier
Design No: CH1011
Embroidery Style: Da Zi Xiu, Dui Xiu
Era: Late Qing Era (circa 1890)
Framed Dimensions:
840mm x 835mm
Unframed Dimensions:
510mm x 495mm
Reference Material: Yang Zheng Wen, Miao Zu Fu Shi Wen Hua, pp.177-202

The Story behind the Artwork

This work is an excellent early example of the Wenshan Miao embroidery style which uses the most complex and time consuming embroidery techniques when crafting their work. Although influenced to some degree by other minorities of neighbouring districts, the Wenshan Miao thanks to their geographical isolation developed their own distinctive style. Works of this age and quality are very rare. Unfortunately the techniques used are seldom employed today due to the very limited number of people alive who now possess the needful skills.

This work is alive with motifs. In the middle of the central panel is a beautiful peony (Mudan, the Chinese national flower) with a phoenix flying above and a goldfish swimming below, interspersed with butterflies, birds, a cat and flowers. This is surrounded on three sides by green fabric embroidered with grapes, butterflies and more flowers. All the motifs used represent the desire for good health and prosperity and reflect traditional respect for the natural environment and dependence on it for success in life. The technique used in the top panel is called Piling and uses fifteen layers of fabric to create the effect which symbolises the intergenerational history of the family of the woman who made the fabric and her aspirations for the future generations of the family. Originally this piece would have been very vibrant using red, pink, yellow, green, blue and black and although it has faded over time this adds to its charm.