|Yang Xiaoting is a young designer of Han embroidery. (Photo/ China Daily)|
Yang Xiaoting, 34, is recognized as a rising star of Han embroidery in Wuhan. With many award-winning works already in her repertoire, the young woman is creating waves, and controversy, unsettling traditional masters such as Ren Benrong.
Hubei-born Yang has set out to learn a wide range of different embroidery skills from all over China and she is applying the fused knowledge in her own works - which ranges from samplers of animals and flowers, landscapes and folk art, to Da Vinci's famous Mona Lisa to her own self-portrait.
She has broken all the molds, but she insists her works are Han embroidery.
Yang was born into a rich family and her grandmother was a skilled embroiderer who taught Yang how to sew when she was a child. She studied law and had excellent prospects with a law firm, but Yang left because she was looking for something else - a peace she found in her embroidery.
She went to Suzhou where she studied from masters of Su embroidery for a year. In 2001, she set up her own embroidery studio.
One of her works, depicting a gathering of all the ethnic groups in China, took her a year to finish. Someone offered to buy it for 1 million yuan ($160,000), but she declined.
"In olden times, most women in Hubei could embroider, but now few of the local young can use the needle, let alone do Han embroidery," she says.
"It is hard to attract the young people with old themes. I want to revive the old art and promote it to more people," says Yang, adding that she has a lot of respect for the old masters and still has much to learn from them.
Yang's studio is in Tanhualin Historic Street, a popular pedestrian mall in Wuhan filled with cafes and shops that attract the city's young. Her apprentices, all women, run three other shops on the same street.
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