Gold wire and silver thread, flat and convex, colorful, lifelike, this is gold embroidery, a kind of embroidery originated in the Ming and Qing dynasties, popular in the Fujian and Taiwan regions. The “destiny” of golden embroidery is closely related to Fujian and Taiwan folk beliefs and customs, and this elegant and popular embroidery craft has been popular for hundreds of years and has amazed the time.
Lin Xiuqing, a master of Quanzhou arts and crafts, is the provincial non-genetic inheritor of Jin Cang embroidery, with 40 years of embroidery experience, and can tell the origin and use of Jin Cang embroidery, and the selection of materials and embroidery embroidery methods are even more precious. “It’s a pity that few people know how to appreciate such a beautiful embroidery, and I hope that more young people can learn it and pass it on.” Lin Xiuqing said that with the changes of the times, this kind of manual work that requires quiet attention to thread needles and threads, it is difficult to attract the younger generation to learn from teachers, facing the dilemma of inheritance of “someone to teach, no one to learn”.
The golden thread is condensed by several strands of cotton fine thread, and after twisting into one, the outside is coated with gold or silver paint, which can play a “brightening” effect and increase the texture and grade of embroidery. Photo by Southeast Network reporter Xie Yumei
The embroidery method is unique and has been popular in Fujian and Taiwan
Golden cangxi embroidery is an extension of the ancient Quanzhou embroidery method, because it is mostly embroidered with gold thread wrapped with cotton thread, its shape is like an onion (Hokkien “onion” and “cang” homonym in Hokkien), so it was first called golden onion embroidery, and later Yahua into golden embroidery.
Since ancient times, the religious belief atmosphere in Fujian and Taiwan has been very strong, and various folk beliefs have been prosperous for a long time, which has also extended many religious items. Outsiders who do not know gold embroidery, as long as they enter the big palace and small temple in Fujian and Taiwan, they can see it everywhere when they raise their eyes. The colors hanging on the lintels of the temples, the table circumferences tied to the sacrificial tables, the divine clothes worn by various gods and Buddhas, as well as the umbrella cloths, embroidered flags, and banners used by the gods and Buddhas, as well as the Taoist costumes on the Taoist priests, the costumes worn by the “lively” theater team, and the puppet costumes on the puppets… These supplies that “deal” with gods and Buddhas are inseparable from gold embroidery.
Not only in Fujian and Taiwan, but also in Hong Kong and Macao, as well as in Singapore, Malaysia and other Southeast Asian countries, it is also very popular among overseas Chinese of Fujian nationality. “Taiwan mostly likes dense embroidery and bright colors, while Hong Kong and Singapore prefer plain colors and simple colors.” For the style requirements of gold cangxi embroidery in different places, Lin Xiuqing knows it well. Although the style preferred by each region is different, the requirements for quality are the same. Every year, Lin Xiuqing’s workshop sells more than one million yuan of golden embroidery products, of which 70% are sold to Taiwan.
Lin Xiuqing has been learning gold cangxiu at home with her sister since she was 16 years old, and it has been 40 years since Southeast Network reporter Lin Jie photographed
Golden cang’s embroidery is mostly based on silk satin, and three-dimensional and vivid embroidery is carried out on lustrous fabric, and the embroidery needs to be customized in advance. According to the customer’s requirements, the embroidery master will draw a 1:1 sample drawing on the oil paper, and use a very fine needle to pierce the oil paper along the lines on the drawing. Cover the oil paper over the taut base cloth, brush it with kerosene and pearl powder once or twice, tear the oil paper, and the pattern has been printed on the cloth. As long as the customer’s requirements for the pattern remain unchanged, such a strong oil paper can be used for many years.
After completing the drawing and printing process, we begin to select embroidery thread and materials according to the customer’s favorite style. Golden cang-embroidery thread is mostly silk thread and golden silk thread, mainly golden cang, supplemented by silk thread. Golden wire is condensed by several strands of cotton fine thread, according to the needs can choose to use 3-12 strands of thin thread, after twisting into a strand, the outside is coated with gold or silver paint, can play a “brightening” effect, increase the texture and grade of embroidery; Silk threads come in a variety of colors, and most of the traditional gold embroidery likes to use bright colors to match the color and enrich the entire embroidery. “If the golden embroidery is preserved, it will not fade for hundreds of years.” Lin Xiuqing told reporters that the table circumference used by her mother has been used for more than 50 years, but it is still brand new.
There are various embroidery methods of golden cang, mainly divided into flat embroidery, convex embroidery, lychee jump, etc. Flat embroidery is the use of silk thread to show off a pattern on the base cloth, and then wrapped with gold thread. Unlike other purely “infill pattern” embroidery methods, Lin Xiuqing’s embroidery method is finer and denser, looking clean and tidy, without a sense of sparseness. Convex embroidery, as the name suggests, needs to pile cotton on the pattern, and then stitch it with gold thread, and the cotton needs to be constantly squeezed during the sewing process to ensure that the embroidered lines are firm, even, three-dimensional, round and natural, very particular about the embroiderer’s work. Lychee jumping combines embroidery threads of different colors and adopts cross-embroidery method to make embroidery more vivid and lively.
Golden cang embroidery products are mainly dragons and phoenixes, a single dragon head, want to be exquisite, without a few years of embroidery can not do. Lin Xiuqing showed reporters an embroidered dragon head table that she treasured. The table circumference is 0.86 meters high and 1 meter wide, the dragon head occupies most of the area of the table circumference, the pupil of the dragon’s eye is made of black cloth, the whites of the eyes are sewn with rabbit hair, the dragon’s whiskers are rubbed into round strips with cotton silk thread, and then rolled horizontally with silk thread to make it more compact. The whole faucet is flat and convex, like a 3D painting. To embroider this table circumference, Lin Xiuqing had to work 8 hours a day and work continuously for 2 months without rest.
When embroidering the dragon king, sometimes there will be a water wave pattern under the dragon head, different from the traditional single color and embroidery method, Lin Xiuqing will use two different shades of blue embroidery thread to embroider the wave pattern under the dragon head, so that the embroidery layer is richer and more three-dimensional, and ordinary embroidery is compared together, high and low. “It’s not that the teacher can’t do such a work.”
Lin Xiuqing’s golden embroidery works follow tradition, meticulous and precise, but also constantly innovate, constantly improve, excellence, slow work and finally produce fine work.
The embroidered faucet head is flat and convex, like a 3D painting, which requires a certain amount of embroidery skill Photo by Southeast Network reporter Lin Jie
Insisting on free teaching, but few people have come
Compared with the exquisite works under their hands, the craftsmanship of the embroiderers who sit for a day and do it for a lifetime is more admirable. Lin Xiuqing has followed her sister to learn gold embroidery at home since she was 16 years old, and then entered Quanzhou Jinxiu Village to work, from ordinary embroiderer to manager, Lin Xiuqing spent 28 years learning and improving in Jinxiu Zhuang, years of accumulation has made Lin Xiuqing’s embroidery more and more sophisticated, and the embroidery method has been continuously improved.
“Perseverance all the way, 40 years have passed. My sister, who used to teach me embroidery, gave up because she got married and had children, and after a while, I came to the top. Lin Xiuqing’s persistence has driven many people around to join Jin Cang Embroidery. Now in the workshop she founded, there are her sister-in-law, sister-in-law, and daughter. But sadly, few outsiders, especially young people, want to join the team.
“There was a museum staff member who was interested in this, but after learning from me once or twice, he didn’t come back.” Lin Xiuqing said that many young people actually have the intention of learning a craft, but this traditional skill that requires a lot of energy and patience is very challenging. Not only should the hand-eye coordination ability be good, but also the patience of loneliness and silence, and it takes a long time to become a teacher. “Few young people today would want to spend so much time learning a craft.” Talking about inheritance, Lin Xiuqing told reporters that Jin Cang embroidery even has to learn the most basic flat embroidery for at least half a year. Not being able to recruit people has become Lin Xiuqing’s biggest worry now.
Lin Xiuqing recalled that more than 20 years ago, there were more than 100 embroiderers in the Jinxiu Village where she worked, and many Yongchun masters were very skilful. At present, there are only 12 people in the workshop, 10 of whom are teachers with more than 20 years of experience, and many of them are already grandmothers.
Lin Xiuqing, who was worried that this craft would not be inherited, also went to many special schools in Quanzhou to recruit workers, but still could not find anyone willing to learn from a teacher. Sometimes, the handmade embroidery products in the workshop are not finished in time, and they are distributed to retired teachers in Yongchun to help them be made at home and then sent back to the workshop. “If someone wants to learn, I will teach it with my heart, but now young people don’t like it, and few people are willing to come for free.” Lin Xiuqing was quite helpless about this.
Most of today’s religious articles and costumes are machine-embroidered or combined embroidery products Photo by Southeast Network reporter Lin Jie
The female inheritance mother art looks forward to the wonderful fingertips
Under the influence of ears, Lin Xiuqing’s daughter Cai Lingling has been learning art from her mother since she was 20 years old, but gave up after less than a year or two. “At that time, I was young, and the people who did this line were older, and it was very boring, and the products were relatively monotonous.” Cai Lingling, who was bent on going outside to “break in”, finally chose to give up after her finger was pierced by a needle.
Ten years later, Cai Lingling, who became a mother, began to learn gold cangxiu again. She has been separated from embroidery for a long time, she learned from scratch and from a low level, car embroidery, drawing, flat car… Every day, the hand does not leave the needle, the eyes are not offline, and it is at least 9 hours to sit. “We need good hands and eyes to do our job, so it may be more difficult when you get older.” In recent years, Lin Xiuqing, who wants to take a back seat, has always urged her daughter to study hard and study hard. Inheriting her mother’s golden embroidery skills is the family’s expectation for Cai Lingling, and now it is also her own business.
More important than the inheritance of skills is the inheritance of craftsmanship. Although she is a “beginner”, under the influence of her mother, Cai Lingling is more strict with herself than others. “My embroidery speed is not fast, but it is relatively fine, and if it is not done well, I have to re-assemble and do it.” It is this kind of persistence that made Cai Lingling win the gold medal in the “14th China (Putian) Strait Craft Expo Excellent Works Competition” held this year.
When it comes to future development in terms of inheritance, Cai Lingling has some ideas of her own. “I want to do more creative things on the basis of inheriting tradition.” At present, golden embroidery is generally used in religious sacrifices and traditional opera, and the scope of use is very limited. In the future, Cai Lingling wants to expand into the wedding market and the cultural and creative market, so that Jincang embroidery products will be more diversified and popular. “You can make mandarin duck purses, newcomer dolls, pillows, etc., and you can also frame embroidery and hang them on the wall, these are all things that can be passed down and are very meaningful.”
“In fact, the market for golden embroidery is still very large, but there are not many people who work in the industry. Our workshop is relatively large in Quanzhou. “For recruitment, Cai Lingling also has her own opinions.” The salary of this job is not high, the working hours are long and tiring, and you still need to calm down to learn, and many young people can’t last long even if they have the heart to learn. “Cai Lingling boldly aimed her recruitment at young housewives.” When the child goes to school during the day, the mother comes to work when she has nothing to do, and the evening and weekend time can be used to accompany the child, and after learning, she can also take the embroidery home to do it. For the future, Cai Lingling still has many ideas, but the most important thing at present is to learn Jin Cang embroidery well and refined.
People who use golden embroidery are slowly aging, but the number of people learning golden embroidery is not increasing day by day, although the inheritance is temporarily facing difficulties, but the exquisite and artistic value of golden embroidery has not changed, and those who have the heart can also read this skill at their fingertips. （
Southeast Network reporter Xie Yumei, Lin Jie, Chen Peiyuan