Zhang Longyuan may be 74-year-old, but his strength has not left him, determined as he is to keep the flag of traditional Yunnanese craftwork flying.
Zhang runs an embroidery gallery in Kunming, capital of Yunnan Province, comprising eight sections spread over 100 square meters.
The gallery has drawn patrons from as far as the United States, who have marveled at the needlework and other handicrafts, especially those from Jianshui, a city in Yunnan Province.
More than 200 pairs of golden lotus shoes (worn by women with bound feet in medieval times) and a Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) royal dragon arras are the jewels of Zhang's crown, containing 2,100 pieces of embroidery.
He has trudged up mountains in Jianshui, a city with centuries of embroidery history, and visited remote hamlets to collect the pieces.
"The sight of almost every piece has enchanted me, and I've bought many of them, some with borrowed money," he says.
His son supports his quest, and has helped him convert his apartment into a gallery. "His love for the treasures cannot be imagined, and we respect his passion," the son said.
His affair with the graceful art of needlework began in 1949, with most of his collection coming from Jianshui.
However, neither Jianshui nor Yunnan Province as a whole, figure among the four major schools of Chinese embroidery namely Jiangsu, Guangdong, Sichuan and Hunan provinces despite the unique style of its needlework.
(China Daily January 11, 2007)