Trade Resources Blog What is traditional Chinese embroidery? Get a deep understanding of Chinese embroidery

What is traditional Chinese embroidery? Get a deep understanding of Chinese embroidery

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By Celinelee on Jun 28, 2021
Tags: Chinese embroidery

This article will explain what traditional Chinese embroidery is and help you to gain a deep understanding of everything about it. It will begin by giving the definition and explaining how it is made, before looking at the history of this beautiful type of material. There are different types of embroidery, with the main traditional types being Xiang, Shu, Yue and Su. You will learn the differences and back stories for each of these different forms of embroidery, helping you to tell the difference between them. After this, the article will speak about the market for these products, explaining their popularity and the reasons that so many people around the world want to purchase them. Then, you will see seven of the top reasons that you should choose embroidery products to invest in, including the demand, quality, appearance, ability to store them and many other reasons. Finally, this piece will list some of the most popular types of embroidered product, helping you to understand the best places to start searching and telling you the main considerations when sourcing from  a supplier. By the time you have finished reading, you should have all of the information you need to get started.

chinese embroidery

What is Chinese embroidery?

Embroidery is the method of decorating a fabric using a needle and thread. There are many techniques, however Chinese embroidery is known for its elegant and attractive design. It can be done on a wide range of materials and its noticeable appearance makes it easy to find. It stands out from other types of materials as it adds texture, while allowing the person doing the embroidery to create any type of pattern that they desire, with whichever colors they would like to use.

This type of embroidery was traditionally done by hand, however it can also be done with great precision using machines. Sometimes, sequins or beads can be added into embroidery designs, making them even more unique.

The history of Chinese embroidery

The origins of embroidery in China go back as far as 5,000 years ago. In 1958, a piece of embroidered silk was found that showed the pattern of a dragon and phoenix, which was believed to have been made between 475-221BC, making it more than 2,000 years old.

During the Han Dynasty, between 106BC and AD220, embroidery became more popular, which meant more people practiced this skill and many more embroidered pieces have been found that date back to the Han Dynasty. 

There are various types of embroidery from China. These include:

- Xiang embroidery

The earliest piece of Xiang embroidery was found in the No. 1 tomb of Mawangdui, Changsha City of the Han Dynasty. The pattern of weaving in this type is very similar to the type of embroidery that we see continuing today. It typically uses hard and soft satin, as well as pure silk and nylon, as well as colourful variants of silk thread, making it perfect for attractive works of art and everyday materials.

- Shu embroidery

This type of embroidery is sometimes referred to as Chuan embroidery. It dates back to the Han Dynasty and even earlier, with the central government creating an office for its creation. During the Song Dynasty, between 960-1279, it was produced in large quantities, as well as being known for its quality and fast development. Once the People’s Republic of China had been founded, large factories were made for the embroidery of Shu embroidery, allowing more to be created, faster than ever before.

- Yue embroidery

Often called Guang embroidery, this is the name for embroidery made in Zhongshan, Guangzhou, Shunde, Shantou and Fanyu. It is believed that Yue embroidery firstly became popular when a girl called Lu Mainiang embroidered a 30cm long piece of silk that included the seventh volume of the Fahua Buddhist Scripture. The Guangzhou Port of the Song Dynasty started to promote Tue embroidery from then onwards. It has a noticeable appearance as it often includes phoenixes, dragons, bird and flowers in its design with bold color schemes.

- Su embroidery

This has a noticeable weaving technique, using thin needles and dense lines with bright, even designs. It goes back more than 3,000 years with the Suzhou, Jiangsu Province being popular for the creation of this type of embroidery. Its creation began around or before the Three Kingdoms Period, between the year 220-280, as well as being popular with those in Suzhou throughout the Ming Dynasty between 1368-1644.

china embroidery design

What is the market like for Chinese embroidery?

This form of embroidery is very popular around the world. Its beautiful, unique and elegant appearance has meant that it has become seen as a desirable type of material that people want to buy.

Throughout history, imagery of embroidered clothing and other products have been shared, meaning its popularity has continued to grow. It has been worn, bought and promoted by people all around the world, including high profile individuals. This increased awareness and sense of desirability has meant that more people than ever before are looking to buy these great embroidered products.

Social media and the internet have helped to grow the profile of embroidery, with more people respecting the talent that it takes to design and create products, as well as helping people to understand the large variety that is available. The more people have researched and purchased these items, the more they are seen being worn and spoken about, and the higher the likelihood of people purchasing them has become. It has also been shown in many other types of media, such as on news channels and in printed publications such as magazines.

These factors have meant that the Chinese embroidery market is rapidly growing and becoming more popular, showing no signs of slowing down any time soon. Because embroidery is loved by those around the world, those that buy it help to keep its popularity high all year round.

Why choose items with Chinese embroidery?

There are many reasons that you should choose to buy these items. Here are some of the top reasons that they are a great purchase:

1. Popularity

The high popularity of embroidered items makes them a great investment due to the large number of people looking to buy them.

2. Range

The wide range of different embroidered products allows you to capture the attention of a large market of people wanting to buy them. For example, clothing can be sold that is suitable for babies, children, teenagers, or even adults. This means that all retailers, whether they are online or sell products in a shop, can benefit from stocking these products.

3. Quality

Chinese embroidery is done to a very high standard, making it a product that is respected and highly desirable. This makes them products that can be used many times, worn many times, or displayed for long periods of time, depending on their purpose. This creates value for money for everybody that buys them.

4. Long-lasting

The materials used in embroidery makes them long-lasting. The long history of people enjoying and appreciating these items has also proven that they will not go out of style and they never go out of date. Because of this, there is no rush to sell the items and this reduces the risk of investing into purchasing them.

5. Easy to store

Embroidered products are typically done on soft materials which means they cannot break or smash. The benefit of this is that they are easy to send, store and keep without needing to spend money protecting them with materials such as bubble wrap.

6. Easy to ship

The lightweight design of embroidery means that most embroidered products are cheap and easy to send to any location. This keeps the cost of shipping down, which is particularly useful for those sending them to customers or even to overseas locations.

7. Appearance

Most noticeably, the appearance is one of the major reasons that people benefit from purchasing embroidery. The beautiful and eye catching design means that they impress everybody that sees them and creates a talking point whenever they are seen. They add style, regardless of which type of products it is and their amazing appearance is a major selling point. There are no other products on the planet that can match those that feature this type of embroidery, making them stand out in the market.

chinese su embroidery

Popular types of product that include Chinese embroidery

There are many different types of products that you can buy. Here are some of the most common types that are available:

1. Costumes and clothing

Embroidered costumes and clothing are best-sellers around the world. Many different items of clothing can be purchased including dresses, jackets, hats, gowns, trousers and slippers for those of all ages.

2. Home items

This can include embroidered bedding and duvet sets, which can add a touch of style to any bedroom, with designs being available in different patterns, depicting different imagery and even in different colors. Other home items include cushion covers and curtain fabric, which are great ways to add elegance into any home while making sure the space is stylish.

3. Decorations

Embroidered artwork and designs are very popular products that use embroidery. Often, they are hung on walls or are displayed in frames to keep them safe, holding them in position and making sure they last for long periods of time. Often, they are so attractive that they are used as centre pieces to draw attention to certain areas of the home.

4. Other items

Many other items can be bought that are embroidered, including bags, sleeve panels and materials that can be used to create any products that you desire.

Chinese embroidery fabric

Points to consider when buying embroidered products

- Type of product

The first thing to think about is the type of product that you want to buy. This will depend on your target market and the people that you are looking to sell to. For a clothing company, clothing would be the obvious choice, however for a homeware store, they may need to carefully consider the types of products that they stock and may choose embroidered artwork instead. By choosing the right type of product, you can be confident that there will be demand for it and that it will sell well.

- Design

Once you have chosen the type of product that you want, the next step is to look at the design that you like. Some designs are more plain and common which may be a safer purchase, as a larger number of people are likely to be drawn to it. However, if you have more unique requirements, for example, you want to sell more stand-out designs, you may choose phoenix designs and those that are more colourful, making sure they are not too plain. Again, this comes down to understanding the preferences of those that you want to sell the products to.

- Supplier

Finally, once you know the type and design of the product that you want to buy, it is time to find the right Chinese embroidery supplier. This can be done by searching online and looking at various suppliers, making sure that your chosen one is able to offer the quantity of products that you need within your set budget, as well as making sure you like the products that they sell. Other points to consider include buyers’ reviews, the opportunity to receive samples, the materials used, the amount of time that it takes for your order to arrive and the type of packaging that will be used to contain and protect the items in transit, making sure they arrive in perfect condition. Once you have chosen the most suitable supplier, it is time to place an order with them and wait for it to arrive with you.


Chinese embroidery has been famous for countless years and its popularity continues to make these products popular and regular purchases. You should now have a good understanding of the best ways to begin sourcing and stocking these great products, which can be a very enjoyable process when you follow the steps in this article. Good luck!

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