Sun Yanling Heilongjiang, China

China’s Intangible Cultural Heritage embroidery successor; born in Mohe, Heilongjiang Province. She succeeded in discovering Bohai Mohe embroidered court and folk handicrafts from 1,300 years ago that were prevalent in the vicinity of Longzhou, Beijing Longquan Prefecture, Kingdom of Bohai. Sun Yanling started teaching embroidery and founded Embroidery House - an ethnic crafts company that trains tens of thousands of embroiderers.

She has formed an industrial army of her own, and passed on an ancient artistic heritage that was on the verge of extinction. In 2012, her hand-embroidered work “Prayer” was awarded the Innovative Product Design Gold Award at the Chinese Arts and Crafts Golden Phoenix Cup. As part of a Chinese women's delegation on behalf of Heilongjiang Province and Mudanjiang City, her works were exhibited in Russia, North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Australia, Vietnam, Iran, the United Arab Emirates, and other countries.

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Q

Uniqueness of Bohai Mohe sewing

A

First is the distinct material used. Mohe sewing uses Tussah silk. Currently, there are two kinds of silk available worldwide; one is that of mulberry and the other Tussah. Mohe sewing uses Tussah silk, which is also known as wild silk and is relatively thicker with very beautiful and vibrant dye colours.

Second is the unique sewing technique adopted by Mohe sewing. Bohai Mohe sewing was developed in the Mudan River basin of Heilongjiang Province, where the climate was bitterly cold. Over 1,300 years ago, the technique adopted to sew furs tightly together to fend off the cold is known as triangular stitches rather than those of parallel. The technique continues to date. The clothes sewing technique is passed on, while a layering technique is adopted to create thick sewing pieces with life-like images.

Third is the oil-painting-like style. If the four major Chinese embroideries may be referred to painting with elaborate styles, then Mohe sewing would be the western oil painting.

Q

The greatest challenge facing the inheritance

A

Innovation is the greatest challenge. Chinese hand embroidery is rather traditional and has inherited over thousands of years of ideas and concepts. To make it to the international stage, international design concepts are necessary. Innovation therefore is the greatest challenge in the inheritance of a handicraft.

Q

How do young inheritors bring such an ancient handicraft back to live?

A

The young inheritors of the new generation must focus on following the world trend to create works that are more popular and practical. This is the future of embroidery. Handicrafts require time adjustment. From the simple creation to its maturity and diverse development – this is a new model that future youth must undertake for traditional inheritance and education.

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