Gu Yuchun, a 65-year-old provincial-level craftsman of Chinese intangible cultural heritage, can embroider vivid patterns on Xuan paper, a traditional Chinese art paper, and has further developed the art and promoted it in the world.
The special form of art originated in Ming Dynasty (A.D. 1368-1644) from the Gu family’s traditional embroidery techniques of embroidering patterns on paper, according to Gu, who is the 9th generation in his family to inherit the skill
Gu has seen his father working on embroidery products with Xuan paper since he was little, and finds the art fascinating. After years of efforts, Gu managed to combine traditional embroidery with Chinese ink painting and created independently embroidered ink painting in 2001.
Meanwhile, Gu has constantly improved the paper used for embroidery. He went to the manufacturers of Xuan paper in east China’s Anhui Province where Xuan paper was first created and has been an iconic product, and finally developed better paper for embroidery after many experiments.
Besides, Gu has also broken the old rule of keeping the techniques within his family, which had been strictly followed in his family for generations, and started to teach the skills to students.
Gu hopes the techniques can be passed on from generation to generation so that more people can learn the charm of the art. He thinks that the special art form is not only intangible cultural heritage, but also represents a continuation of culture.
Gu’s embroideries on Xuan paper have been permanently collected by organizations including Mexican Embassy in China. In recent 20 years, Gu has received orders from countries around the world including the U.S., UK, Canada, Australia, and Singapore.