The Routledge Encyclopaedia of Traditional Chinese Culture

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In January 2020, the Taylor and Francis Group in the United Kingdom, published and released The Routledge Encyclopedia of Traditional Chinese Culture. The publication comprises 23 chapters; each addressing a major aspect of traditional Chinese culture from the ancient period to modern era. The publication is intended as reference for graduate and also undergraduate students involved in various studies and survey courses to Chinese culture.  It is also a good resource for anyone interested in learning about Chinese culture.


Inevitably, there is a chapter on Embroidery, which had a highly visible and significant role in Chinese culture.  I was thrilled to be invited to contribute the chapter and this is now in print as Chapter 15 (Embroidery in China) in the publication.


With a history tracing back to the Neolithic period, embroidery had a permanent role that permeated into every echelon and aspect of Chinese society, adapting with the times and, in the process, has itself developed from the fundamental role of decoration to include a much admired fine art status. 


Embroidery’s many varied roles in Chinese culture have included:

·      Political tools in form of tribute, ransom, reward, gifts and to fortify political ideology

·      Status symbols for the Imperial family and aristocracy;

·      Religious and spiritual devotion and rituals;

·      Decorations for apparel, furnishings and items of daily life;

·      Expressions of personal aspirations and feelings;

·      Fortification of social and political ideals;

·      As an asset and means for economic returns at both personal and national  level

·      Art and culture


The subject of embroidery is extremely broad due to its multi faceted roles. Embroidery images and designs used in Chinese embroidery and the practice of embroidery itself are steeped in tradition and firmly entwined with ideological and philosophical practices of the different eras. Each of these aspects warrants a whole dissertation on its own. For the purpose this publication, the focus is confined to embroidery in a generic theme and how as a tradition, it is still as relevant today as it was back in the Neolithic period.


The Routledge Encyclopedia of Traditional Chinese Culture, is available in both a hardcopy and an e-book version.

© 2017 Margaret Lee Embroidery            Email:  margaret(*at*)margaretlee(*dot*)com(*dot*)au             © Designed by astrid s