Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Published in Hidden Stories/Human Lives: Proceedings of the Textile Society of America 17th Biennial Symposium, October 15-17, 2020. https://digitalcommons.unl.edu/tsaconf/

doi: 10.32873/unl.dc.tsasp.0101


Copyright © 2020 Tomoko Torimaru


The Miao people of Guizhou province, China, use two different types of chain stitch. One is a standard chain stitch similar to the Western style. The other one, which I termed “ancient” chain stitch, is distinctly different in execution and appearance, and it is a technique that only Miao practice currently.

Numerous examples of fine chain stitch embroidery have been excavated from archeological sites in China, including the Jiangling Mashan No.1 Chu Tomb, Jingzhou, Hubei, Warring States period (770–221 BC) and the Mawangdui No.1 Tomb, Changsha, Hunan, Western Han period (206 BC–AD 8). These extant embroideries clearly illustrate a unique expression of fine, fluid, curvilinear lines which are possible using “ancient” chain stitch. The relevance of this connection is highly significant in its implications of a shared history between the Miao people and ancient Chinese civilizations.

In this presentation, I discuss the chain stitch embroidery technique and examine the idea that the Miao certainly influenced ancient Chinese embroidery and had a significant presence in the Chu State during the Warring States period.