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Published: 20 March 2020

By Andy Ross

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Miao embroidery

Miao women use embroidery to tell their stories.

Miao is the name given to one of China's ethnic minority groups, people from South China, who have links with Thailand and Vietnam. Miao women have embroidered for centuries, with The Book of Han suggesting that the craft was practiced more than two thousand years ago. Over that time embroidery has become a visual record holding the history and heritage of the people. Even the fact that there was no formal language amongst the Miao of China until the 1950s has become part of a rather wonderful tale; apparently horses ate the ancient manuscripts of sleeping warriors, exhausted from their flight from China!  

Miao embroidery, as you can see here, is highly decorative, using abstractions and distortions to produce designs which are fantastic and fantastical. Have a look at this essay on Google Art and Culture which shows some of the intricate costumes and mesmerising work of these craftswomen, and watch this YouTube video for more to admire and inspire.