Dongtai Hair Embroidery

Embroidery has become a treasure in Chinese civilization thanks to its long history. Hair embroidery has a special place in the history of embroidery. Known as “ink embroidery” in ancient China, hair embroidery uses human hair with natural colors like black, white, gray and yellow as the threads, and techniques like jointing, cutting and rolling are employed to create vivid artworks on cloth and silk fabric.

During the Tang Dynasty when Buddhism was prevalent, there were pious women in Xixi, Dongtai, who used hair as thread to embroider Buddha images, which was the origin of hair embroidery. Later on, during the Yuan and Ming dynasties, themes of hair embroidery gradually exceeded Buddhism to cover various themes including landscape paintings, calligraphy, portraits, and animal etc.

Hair embroidery has different characteristics from other embroideries. The finished embroideries are often more fashionable and elegant than silk embroidery, besides, the stitches are dense, the colors are soft, and the style is very special. Moreover, human hair has special properties and is tougher and smoother than ordinary silk thread; therefore the color of the hair embroidery artwork does not fade, and is resistant to corrosion and good for collection.