Taizhou embroidery, or Tai Xiu, is an intangible cultural heritage of Zhejiang province (east China). / Wu Boyao

Taizhou embroidery, or Tai Xiu, is an intangible cultural heritage of Zhejiang province (east China). / Wu Boyao

Han Jiting was fascinated by Taizhou embroidery, or Tai Xiu in Chinese, at first glance on campus when recruiting. After graduating, the 22-year-old traveled 900 miles from Dandong in northeast China’s Liaoning Province to Taizhou in eastern Zhejiang Province to learn more about this art form.

“I learned Tai Xiu in Taizhou for about four months, then I was trained in management,” said Han, now manager of TAISILK boutique located in Hangzhou electronic fashion city, who is home to the country’s most avant-garde original boutique brands.

Tai Xiu is a folk embroidery that incorporated Chinese and Western cultures in the early 20th century. In 1906, French Catholic missionaries traveled to Haimen (now Taizhou) where they passed on Western embroidery techniques, such as carving and drawing, to nuns and orphans in the local church. Eventually these techniques were incorporated into traditional Chinese embroidery and a unique variation emerged.

An exquisite Tai Xiu product. / Wu Boyao

An exquisite Tai Xiu product. / Wu Boyao

But TAISILK is more than a replica of the craftsmanship of yesteryear.

“I think I’m greedy,” said Lin Xia, a third heir to Tai Xiu and founder of TAISILK. “I want to market Tai Xiu’s production, but also stick to its artistic nature.”

She believes there is a way to balance art and business. As such, the company has been experimenting with innovative techniques to enrich the cultural embodiment of Tai Xiu since 1998. In addition, through the boutique industry, traditional cultural heritage has become accessible to the general public.

Yet Lin was not satisfied with this. She wanted to distinguish Tai Xiu from other Chinese embroidery.

“There is a tendency for homogenization among today’s embroidery products, a lack of individuality,” said Lin.

She tried to instill modern, abstract thoughts into the designs and “jump the boundaries of traditional embroidery”.

Interior decoration with TAISILK. / Wu Boyao

Interior decoration with TAISILK. / Wu Boyao

Lin’s work “Web World” won the Gold Prize of the “Bai Hua” Grand Prize for Chinese Arts and Crafts, one of the highest awards in the field in China. In this work of art, Lin moved away from conventional patterns of flowers, birds, fish and insects. His ideas about life and art were demonstrated through dense bone pinholes and the tangle of cobweb embroidery, capturing the ubiquity of cobwebs. The spider finds it difficult to connect to the outside world instead of hiding. This inspired Lin to reflect on the life and development of Tai Xiu.

Lin Xia’s work “Web World.” / Www.accweb.cn

Lin Xia’s work “Web World.” / Www.accweb.cn

Over the past two decades, Lin and his team have brought Tai Xiu to a bigger world. Today, TAISILK has over 150 physical stores across the country and is available on e-commerce platforms such as Taobao, Xiaohongshu (Chinese Lifestyle Sharing Platform) and Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok.

The team is still thinking about Tai Xiu’s future. Last year, the company launched a new brand called “Tingtang”, targeting a group of younger consumers. To better understand their tastes, values ​​and speech, new blood was introduced into the company, Han being one of them.

Han said she was determined to contribute to continuous innovation at Tai Xiu.



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