An Encyclopaedia on Chinese History and Literature

Xiupu 繡譜

Mar 26, 2024 © Ulrich Theobald

Xiupu 繡譜, also called Yunjian Dingshi xiupu 雲間丁氏繡譜, is a book on traditional embroidery written during the Qing period 清 (1644-1911) by Ms Ding Pei 丁佩, courtesy name Bushan 步珊, from Yunjian 雲間 (today part of Songjiang 松江, Shanghai).

The book of one fascicle was finished in 1821. It compares the arts of painting, calligraphy, poetry, and architecture with the skill of embroidery, and explains in depth the rules of the craft. The text is divided into six parts. The first part is about the environment (Zedi 擇地), which must be leisurely, quiet, bright and clean. The next section (Xuanyang 選樣) describes the requirements for selecting embroidery patterns, paying attention to reasoning, style, tailoring, embellishment, elegance, and expression, and recommends to avoid lavishness or austerity, and excessive adornments or simplicity. The third part explains the selection of materials (Qucai 取材) and tools such as silk thread, satin, gauze yarn, needles, scissors, and frames. Chapter four (Bianse 辨色 "Judging colours") describes the characteristics and usage of eighteen different colours and their characteristics. Part five (Chenggong 程工 "Mastery and techniques") describes the techniques of embroidery and the methods of alignment (qi 齊), brightness (guang 光), straightness (zhi 直), uniformity (yun 勻), thinness (bao 薄), smoothness (shun 順) and density (mi 密) of stitches. The last part of the book (Lunpin 論品 "About classification") explains five qualitative grades of embroidery that were lent from the critique of paintings and calligraphy, namely, ability (neng 能), skillfulness (qiao 巧), beauty (miao 妙), spirit (shen 神), and surpassing skill (yi 逸). It also recommends to rank embroideries by four criteria, namely exquisite workmanship (jinggong 精工), richness and beauty (fuli 富麗), purity and fineness (qingxiu 清秀), and mastery (gaochao 高超).

The Xiupu summarises the techniques of the craft of embroidery and its aesthetic features. The rules laid out in the book are still of guiding significance and reference value for the contemporary art of embroidery.

The text is found in the series Xuxiu siku quanshu 係修四庫全書 and Xiyongxuan congshu 喜詠軒叢書.

Yang Boda 楊伯達 (1992). "Xiupu 繡譜", in Zhongguo da baike quanshu 中國大百科全書, part Qinggong 輕工 (Beijing; Shanghai: Zhongguo da baike quanshu chubanshe), 532.
Jiang Yi 姜昳 (2004). "Zhonggui di yi bu cixiu zhuanzhu Xiupu ji qi zuzhe Ding Pei 中國第一部刺繡專著《繡譜》及其作者丁佩", Zhongguo dianji yu wenhua 中國典籍與文化, 2004 (2): 47-52.
Sun Meng 孫萌 (2017). "Xiupu yu Xueyi xiupu bijiao yanjiu 《繡譜》與《雪宧繡譜》比較研究", Zhuangshi 裝飾,2017 (4): 128-129.
Sun Meng 孫萌 (2021). "Ding Pei Xiupu yu Qingdai Jiangnan caiyuan wenhua 丁佩《繡譜》與清代江南才媛文化", Shanghai gongyi meishu 上海工藝美術, 2021 (4): 60-62.
Xu Qin 徐勤 (2014). "Ding Pei Xiupu jiazhi pipan 丁佩《繡譜》價值批判", Chuangyi sheji yuan 創意設計源, 2014 (6):46-51.
蜀漢 (221-263)