Qiang Embroidery Apron
According to legends of the Three Kingdoms period (AD 220–280), when fighting continued along the Qiang and Shu (蜀) borders, the Qiang women were brave and fierce, and the Shu suffered terribly in their confrontation.
The Shu prime minister Zhuge Liang sent generals to the Qiang inhabited Wen mountain area, but they failed to do the job and were often defeated. Zhuge Liang was very annoyed, then he came up with another way to deal these brave fighting Qiang women.
Zhuge Liang had a spell weaved into cross-stitch aprons, and gave them to Qiang women. All the women loved the beauty, but the beautiful cross-stitch aprons were also under the mysterious spell of Zhuge Liang. This mysterious spell can made people infatuated with the beautiful embroidery and unable to extricate themselves.
Qiang women seeing such a beautiful rare thing, in this way made it their special favourite. So these rare skills passed from Han people to the Qiang ladies who strived to compete in this fashion.
Since then, the brave and skilled Qiang women mostly passed their days not training for war but instead competing to learn embroidery. Since the armistice between Qiang and Shu many years ago, the local people have been living in peace. The cross-stitch embroidery that Zhuge Liang sent, after thousands of years development by the Qiang people has become the embroidery we see today.
Amazingly, until today, almost all men and women of the Qiang people still wear the embroidery aprons. Local people say, a girl who doesn’t know embroidery won’t be able to get married, every Qiang household knows embroidery, every family uses their own embroidery in their own home.
Although modern culture has already seeped into the Qiang culture, nevertheless in Wenchuan (汶川) , Qiang mountain life apparently continues an unusually harmonious combination of traditional culture and modern fashion. Walking down the streets and alleys of Wenchuan county, the most common sight is Qiang people completely dressed in traditional costume, or wearing modern fashion but with a Qiang embroidery apron around the waist.
This mix is very obvious to the eyes, sometimes you might doubt whether you have arrived in Milan fashion district. Seeing the dark bold figures of the Qiang people wearing western casual clothes, with a hand-stitched embroidery apron around the waist, and wearing silver jewellery, is extraordinarily charming!
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