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Ancient embroidery masterpieces impress visitors
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A piece of traditional Chinese embroidery, a masterpiece, was shown at the Chinese Embroidery Masterpieces Exhibition in the Royal Culture Center in central Amman on October 24, 2007.

Among visitors standing in front of a traditional Chinese embroidery masterpiece named Sunset over the Dead Sea, 80-year-old Asma was the most eye-catching guest. With a crutch in her right hand, she stared at the works, mumbling "great" and ignoring words of her friends nearby.

A traditional Chinese embroidery masterpiece is shown on Chinese Embroidery Masterpieces Exhibiton in the Royal Culture Center in central Amman, October 24, 2007.

Coming from the Iraqi capital of Baghdad for a short visit to the Jordanian capital, she felt fortunate to come across the Chinese Embroidery Masterpieces Exhibition, which was staged at the Royal Culture Center in central Amman on Wednesday.

"You don't know how lucky I am. My friends know I like this kind of art work so they told me about the exhibition and I came here," said Asma. She was wearing a shawl-pattern shirt and a long black skirt.

Being informed that the double-sided embroidery took one-year of to complete, she could not help opening her mouth.

"I am really astonished at the Chinese art," she said. "Each one is better than the other and each detail reflects how delicate it is."

Her friend Anisa Saadoun, 76, said that she was also deeply impressed. "Unbelievable - they are hand-made. Since they can do this, they can do everything," said Saadoun.

Though she has seen Chinese embroidery before in her homeland, Nanda Mohottala, wife of the Sri Lankan ambassador in Amman, was still surprised at the exhibition.

In a blue saree (traditional Sri Lankan dress), Mohottala strolled around the exhibition hall and examined every piece very carefully. “Skilled and delicate” were the exact words she used describing the work.

There are 60 works presented in the exhibition hall. The pieces fall into different categories and styles, including single-sided, double-sided, flat, crisscross and cut silk.

These works, which are reproductions of the masterpieces of renowned painters, demonstrate the delicacy and elegance of Suzhou embroidery, one of the four main embroidery styles of China.

Zhao Liya, senior assistant crafts master with China's Suzhou Embroidery Research Institute, said, "Suzhou embroidery is quite unique with its beautiful patterns, harmonious colors, lively stitching and exquisite craftsmanship."

Suzhou embroidery dates back more than 2,000 years. It was produced in a large scale during the Song Dynasty (960-1279). In the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Suzhou embroidery had become famous for its unique style: intricate, elegant and neat.

In the late 19th century, Master Shen Shou, by combining Chinese traditions and essences of the Western painting, created the technique of "verisimilar embroidery." In the 1930s, Professor Yang Shouyu made a breakthrough on the traditions of embroidery and invented the "crisscross stitch" technique.

Embroidery is time-consuming handwork, said Zhao, who has engaged in embroidery production for 28 years. Pointing at the works she was making on the scene to demonstrate the art, she said that it would take her two months to make a palm-sized peony in full bloom.

The culture ministries of China and Jordan launched the exhibition jointly. Through the whole night Zhao was surrounded by visitors who were keen to see how to stitch with a silk thread as thin as a hair and a two-centimeter-long needle.

"Almost all of them ask the same question: how can I remember where the next stitch should be," Zhao said.

Cecilia Villa, wife of the Philippine counselor general in Amman, was no exception. Watching Zhao stitching carefully for about ten minutes, Villa seemed eager to have a try.

She pinched the needle with her forefinger and thumb, but didn't move finally. "It is too delicate to have a try," she finally said. "I am afraid I will spoil it."

Another question frequently asked was the price of the work on exhibit.

Dr. Gullanar Al-Jeboori, a professor of solar energy with the German-Jordanian University, is one of dozens who are willing to buy. She, along with her two sons, wanted to take one piece home after seeing all the exhibits.

"They are beautiful and excellent," said her eldest son Mohammed.

Ali Quba'a, general manager of the Amman-based Quba'a Advertisement Co., even went directly to ask the organizer of the exhibition where to buy a piece of Chinese embroidery after being told the exhibits are not for sale.

"I really love the art and I want to keep one at home," Quba'a said, adding that he has never seen this amazing art before.

The exhibition, which will close on October 30, has attracted over200 visitors during the first hour of its appearance, organizers said.

According to the organizers, China has successfully held such Chinese embroidery exhibitions in Europe and Asia. This travelling ongoing exhibition in Amman is the first one in the Middle East.
(Xinhua News Agency October 25, 2007)

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