Thirty-two-year old Zhang Xue gave up a job in finance to become an embroiderer. The young man, born in 1988, has created numerous exquisite works with his delicate fingers, and is thus regarded as one of China’s best male embroiderers.
“I am Zhang Xue, the son of a traditional Su Embroidery family. My mother Xue Jindi, a senior artist certificated by the government of Jiangsu Province, has been practicing the traditional folk art for more than 40 years. She had wanted a daughter to inherit her profession, as traditionally women are the ones who design and make embroideries. After I was born, my parents named me ‘Xue,’ a girl’s name that also happens to resonate the sound of my mother’s family name, in the hope that I would follow in my mother’s footsteps.”
“I believe embroidery goes beyond craftsmanship itself. For me, the making of a piece of embroidery, all the stitches, patterns, not only cost time and energy, but also reflect the maker’s temperament. What I want to achieve is to touch people’s hearts with the finely twisted yarns.”
Su Embroidery used to be a popular folk craft in the Yangtze River area around Suzhou, a city in east China’s Jiangsu Province. Together with Yue, Xiang, and Shu embroideries, they are called the Four Famous Embroideries of China. Emerging in the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280), Su Embroidery has a history of more than 2,000 years. In the Ming (1368-1644) and Qing (1644-1911) dynasties, it prospered and developed its delicate and elegant style. The legacy of Su Embroidery has continued uninterrupted.