Traditional Suzhou-style embroidery is nothing like you’ve ever seen before. Elaborate depictions of dragons and phoenixes are stitched onto glossy satin, and gold is meticulously weaved among layers of brightly-colored silk threads. It’s here at the Suzhou Embroidery Museum that you’ll find the most magnificent archetypes of this ancient craft. Some of the exhibits on display include Emperor Qianlong’s imperial robes, court gowns of empresses from the Qing Dynasty, and 2,000-year-old embroidered linens unearthed more than 30 years ago from secret tombs in Hubei. Other notable exhibits include a hand-stitched replica of the famous oil painting, Crown of Thorns. Another piece, Portrait of Jesus, was the masterpiece that earned modern Chinese embroiderer Yu Shenshou top honors at the International Fair of Panama in 1915. Yu is also credited as being a visionary in her field. She pioneered a technique known as two-sided embroidery, an innovation which transformed flat embroideries into three-dimensional pieces. Since then, Suzhou embroidery has increasingly welcomed a greater variety of styles including colorful brocade embroidery, miniature embroidery and seed embroidery. You can view these at the museum, which is open Mondays to Fridays from 9am to 11am and 1pm to 4pm.
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