Jun 27, 2012

Qingyang is situated in the farthest eastern part of Gansu Province, or on the Loess Plateau along the middle and upper reaches of the Yellow River, and is the intersection of Shaanxi, Gansu and Ningxia provinces. It was once named as Beidijun (North County) in the Qin Dynasty, Qingzhou in the Sui Dynasty and Qingyang Prefecture in the Song Dynasty. Qingyang perfume sachet, also known as Chuchu, is a kind of folk item that is popular among local people in the Qingyang area.


Perfume Bag

Preparing and wearing Chuchu during the Dragon Boat Festival has long become a custom among the people living in the Qingyang area. (Chu was originally referred to a sewing method with bone needles and was later borrowed to refer to using cloth to sew a kind of bag where its opening can either be tightened or loosened.) However, the time when this custom first took place has yet to be studied and verified. It is said that this custom was formed at a time earlier than 2300 BC when Qi Bo (the author of the Medical Classic of the Yellow Emperor) was carrying a bag of herbal medicine that could prevent epidemic and plague and prohibit snake venom, and hence the fumigation treatment was created. Since Qi Bo was born in Qingyang, this treatment had gradually become a custom, which has been passed on from generation to generation. The herbal medicine was called perfume herb and therefore, the medicine bag was called perfume sachet or Chuchu. Qingyang perfume sachet flourished and became a preferred item to be worn or given as a gift by people during the Ming and Qing dynasties. Before the 1960s, the embroidery of Qingyang perfume sachet was a common skill to every household and most Qingyang girls started needlework at the age of seven or eight. The custom of making and wearing Qingyang perfume sachets, however, began to turn sour in the 1960s. For the past two decades, the custom of embroidering Qingyang perfume sachets has begun to recover. In 2002, Qingyang was named by China Folklore Society as the Town of Perfume Sachet Embroidery .


Qingyang perfume Bag

Qingyang perfume sachet is a 100% handmade craftwork which has a three-dimensional shape compatible with flat embroidery. It is simple in structure and can be pided by production techniques into four categories, namely Chuchu, thread coil, three-dimensional embroidery and flat embroidery. Chuchu is also known as hidden embroidery, wherein the needlework is hidden so as for the sachet to take shape and achieve the ideal effect of unifying form and spirit without seeing the needlework. The process comprises design, selecting materials, cutting, shaping, etc. The thread coil sachet is a pentagon-shaped dumpling formed by coiling up colored threads, and its process consisting of folding shells, matching color stitches, shaping of coiled thread, finishing (i.e. clustering the made-up thread coil and hanging on the color ear) etc, so that the finished sachet can be worn on the person, hung on doors and given to others as a gift to symbolize harmony and peace. The three-dimensional embroidery sachet comes in many styles and shapes. It has nearly 400 styles including single-sided hanging and wearing parts, double-sided hanging and wearing parts, three-dimensional hanging parts and decorative items etc. Its production process comprises composition, embroidery, color dyeing, stitching, finishing etc, and its process steps include drawing a plane figure, making the plane figure, using paste to stick the cloth onto the made-up back, drawing patterns on the broken-down parts according to the plane figure patterns, embroidering, shaping, finishing, decorating etc. The finished product lays a special stress on the similarity of spirit rather than that of shape. Flat-embroidery sachet is in solid and dignified style, whereas in this solidness shows something meaningful. It can be made by way of broken line embroidery, cooperative embroidery, pick-up embroidery and homogeneous stitches, braided stitches, close and straight stitches, mixed stitches, rushing stitches, pulling stitches, spiral gold stitches, point gold stitches, circle gold stitches or other methods.


Qingyang perfume sachet is a traditional craftsmanship, and nowadays the main successors to this craftsmanship include Li Xiu'e and He Meiying etc. At present, the embroidery of Qingyang perfume sachet is facing a grim situation in which handmade products are about to be replaced by modern replicas. Embroidery techniques have gradually been losing. The very small number of craftsmen with knowledge of folk culture has virtually retired and there is a critical shortage of researchers and a lack of qualified successors. Hence, urgent measures are required to save and protect this craftsmanship from being lost.

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