With a history of more than 3,000 years, Su embroidery is the general name for embroidery products in areas around Suzhou, Jiangsu Province. The craft, which dates back to the Three Kingdoms Period (220-280), became a sideline of people in the Suzhou area during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Well known for its smoothness and delicateness, Su embroidery won Suzhou the title City of Embroidery in the Qing Dynasty. In the mid and late Qing, Su embroidery experienced further developments involving works of double-sided embroidering. There were 65 embroidery stores in Suzhou City. During the Republic of China period (1912-1949), the Su embroidery industry was in decline due to frequent wars and it was restored and regenerated after the founding of new China. However, after the foundation of PRC, this craft was recovered and regained rapid development.
Being one of the four traditional Chinese embroidery styles along with Xiang embroidery, Yue embroidery and Shu embroidery, Su embroidery features itself a refined and exquisite folk flavor. Suzhou artists are able to use more than 40 needlework and a 1,000 different types of threads to make flowers, birds, animals and other nature and the environment themes on a piece of cloth. The weaving techniques are characterized by numerous strict standards such as flat surface, neat rims, thin needle, dense lines, harmonious and bright color, and glossy picture. Double-sided embroidery is an excellent representative of Su embroidery, best-known work being two embroidered cat with bright eyes and fluffy hair looking vivid and lifelike separately shown on the each side of the embroidery.
Su embroidery products fall into three major categories: costumes, decorations for halls and crafts for daily use, which integrate decorative and practical values. As an ancient art spread and reproduced for thousands years, Su embroidery is cherished by Modern Chinese people. February 1960, Suzhou Embroidery Research Institute was formally established. October 1986, China Suzhou Embroidery Art Museum was set up in Suzhou, which now becomes a fine display of Suzhou embroidery history and is welcomed by Chinese and foreign people.