Since Sichuan Province is called “Shu” for short, the brocade produced in Chengdu is known as Shu Brocade. Shu Brocade is one of the four famous brocades in China, along with the Song Brocade of Suzhou, Cloud Brocade of Nanjing (Nanjing Yunjin), Zhuang Brocade of Guangxi. Shu Brocade is woven on a floral-hollowing loom, and uses traditional techniques, including pattern design, cross-stitching, coiling, and weaving. The weaving technique of Shu Brocade is one of the national intangible cultural heritages. The texture of Shu Brocade is firm, tenacious and full; its patterns are vivid and beautiful; and the colors are bright and exquisite. Over more than 20 centuries of development, several hundred varieties of Shu Brocade have developed, with a variety of designs. It has become an integral part of the ornament of women in the ethnic groups of southwestern China.
Shu Embroidery, also called Sichuan Embroidery, is a general term referring to the embroidered products with Chengdu as the center. Shu Embroidery is one of China’s four famous styles of embroidery, along with the Su Embroidery of Jiangsu, Xiang Embroidery of Hunan, and Yue Embroidery of Guangdong. The embroidered products in Sichuan are mainly produced in Chengdu and Mianyang. With soft satin and colorful silk threads as the raw materials, local artisans of Sichuan produce embroidery employing over 100 types of stitches to create the desired texture, color, gradation and spatial effect, line embroidery that combines embroidery with paintings, and exquisite double-side embroidery. All these are unique and consummate techniques of Sichuan Embroidery.
Lacquer, also called Lu lacquer, has been a splendid flower in the garden of arts and crafts of Chengdu. Sichuan teems with raw lacquer and vermillion, which are the main raw materials for producing lacquer. Therefore Chengdu is one of the main producers of lacquerwares in China. The lacquerwares produced in Chengdu have wooden, gunny paper and plastic roughcasts, and the main lacquer products include lacquer screens, boxes for containing sweets, reproductions of unearthed cultural relics and paintings. Beautiful in shape, Chengdu’s lacquer products are as transparent as water, and as smooth and bright as mirror, showing excellent techniques. The veiled, hidden, painted and other new techniques add radiance and beauty to the lacquer products in Chengdu.
Woven Bamboo Wares with Porcelain Bodies
The woven bamboo wares with porcelain bodies produced in Chengdu are also called “Bamboo over Porcelain”. As a unique type of the woven bamboo products in China, it is a very fine basketwork woven with thread-like bamboo strips round a porcelain vessel. To weave such a basket involves a process of a dozens of steps and requires high skills. The artisans weave the strips, next to the surface of the porcelain, into a basket of close-knit and even-arranged warp and weft without showing any ends or joints, making every viewer gasp in admiration. The patterns of the baskets have developed from one simple design to geometric, jacquard, veiled and natural landscape patterns.
Gui Pottery has retained the most traditional way of shaping pottery and porcelain wares by hand, a technique which is peculiar to Sichuan. In the past, our ancestors took Gui Pottery as an auspicious object for a house to expel evil spirits and bring good fortune. Gui Pottery wares have remained in great demand at the market over the past 500 years because of their unusual techniques and beautiful patterns of dragons, phoenixes, flowers, grasses, birds and beasts. The clay for making the pottery wares must be plastic and adhesive, which means the clay can easily be made into various shapes according to artisan’s wishes. To produce a high-quality pottery ware requires artisans to “polish” the clay numerous times. Though Gui Pottery looks simple, ancient and unadorned, it features the ancient-style artistic beauty, and the abstract beauty of the modern Chinese and Western cultures. Gui Pottery has been well received by both Chinese and foreign customers due to its unique shapes and beautiful decorations.
Chengdu is one of the traditional producers of filigree artworks in China. The jade objects, ornaments and gold and silver wares excavated from the tomb of Wang Jian, Emperor of the Former Shu prove that the filigree objects reached a fairly high level at that time. Filigree artworks take silver as the raw materials. Artisans in Sichuan adopt various unusual techniques to create relief patterns made of points, lines and spaces. The silver wires are only half thick of human hair, and the thickest one is less than 3 mm. Artisans use these hair-like silver wires to create a wide variety of patterns, such as pines, bamboos, plum blossoms, orchids, peonies, roses, lotus flowers, figurines, birds, beasts, insects, fish, dragons and phoenixes, showing the enchanting artistic effects.