Bringing Intangible Cultural Heritage into Campus – Shanghai Woolen Embroidery

After hearing the words “intangible cultural heritage”, most people may not have any idea and cannot connect with the things they are familiar with. However, when it comes to the Chinese Shadow Puppets, Window paper-cutting, 24 Solar Terms, Acupuncture, Calligraphy and Peking Opera, everyone certainly knows something about them and those are simply intangible cultural heritage. Excellent traditions and skills created by the ancestors must be passed on from generation to generation by descendants of wisdom. On November 12, 2020, 9th graders from the International Division and students from Junior High School International Class tried to learn about an intangible cultural heritage skill that is typical in Shanghai, the city we live in and it is Shanghai Woolen Embroidery.

What is Shanghai Woolen Embroidery?

As the name suggests, Woolen Embroidery is a process of embroidery with cashmere on mesh linen. This technology originated in Western Europe and was introduced to Shanghai in the early 20th century. Shanghai Woolen Embroidery generally uses the needling techniques of dots and cross stitches, allowing it to carry the characteristics of rich, thick, exquisite, and distinctive nuance. Shanghai Woolen Embroidery is different from European Woolen Embroidery, for it integrates traditional Chinese embroidery elements, and it is considered a combination of Chinese and Western elements.

Interesting Experience

Before the official beginning, the instructor first described about the history of Shanghai Woolen Embroidery and made an introduction to the four famous Chinese embroideries – Hunan embroidery, Sichuan embroidery, Guangdong embroidery and Suzhou embroidery. Woolen Embroidery was originally made by nuns in Shanghai churches to kill time. Later, it spread to the countryside and became popular among women. Next, he made a detailed explanation about the basic production processes and precautions. Students could not wait to start! They made various embroideries, and each of them had its unique characteristics. Some embroidered their own names. Some embroidered paintings. And others integrated modern elements into the traditional woolen embroidery. Everyone was particularly attentive every time they inserted and pulled the plum-blossom needle. They were afraid that they would insert the needle into the wrong hole if they were not careful enough. With such a high degree of concentration, the afternoon passed quickly without being noticed. Looking at their works of woolen embroidery for the first time, a sense of achievement arose in the students spontaneously. Although simple, they were the “trophies” from working the whole afternoon, Meanwhile, they could not help but pay deep respect to the huge and exquisite works created by woolen embroidery masters.

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