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Horsetail embroidery: Shui intangible cultural heritage on finger

Author:gzstcj  From:CHINA DAILY Time:2017-09-21 Browse:  Size: Big Middle Small

Living in Sandu county, Guizhou province, the women of the Shui ethnic group are trained to make horsetail embroidery to keep the intangible cultural heritage alive.

Horsetail embroidery is a traditional embroidery style which uses horse hairs and silk thread as the raw materials for the handicraft. The skill of weaving horse hair into thread and sew traditional patterns has been passed down by Shui women for generations. The art was listed as one of China's first intangible cultural heritages in 2006.

It is called the "living fossil" for embroidery because it has existed for thousands of years, reprenting the wisdom of Shui people.

Women often stitch a baby carrier for their newborns, as they believe horse hair will keep their children safe and wealthy in the future.

Song Shuixian, an inheritor of horsetail embroidery, showcases her embroidered clothing in her family's museum. Launched in 2012, the museum displays traditional embroidered handicrafts under the brand name Shuixian Horsetail Embroidery.

"I learned horsetail embroidery from my grandma at seven. Now I have six apprentices to help me promote embroidery culture," said Song.

The first step in creating horsetail embroidery is to weave horse hair into threads. Stitching horsehair is not easy, even for the experienced seamstress.

The whole process involves more than 50 steps, and sometimes a piece of complicated embroidery work can take over one year to finish. Therefore, some apprentices quit during training.

Song currently runs a shop and cooperates with some notable brands, such as the Japanese brand Muji. She still worries, however, about the heritage of the handicraft. "I think it is my responsibility to pass down the skills and keep it alive," she says.

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