Bian Embroidery is also known as “Song Embroidery” as it originated in the Northern Song Dynasty 900 years ago. As the capital of the Northern Song Dynasty, the city of Kaifeng, also called “Bianliang” or “Bianjing” then, was the political, economic and cultural center while the embroidery then was an important part of the handicrafts industry in the city. This was where the name Bian Embroidery came. The Imperial Palace set up Wenxiu Office for embroidery and specifically appointed hundreds of ladies to embroider clothes and accessories for the emperor, concubines and high officials. The emperor’s robes, officials’ court costumes, black gauze hats, and court boots were all excellent products of Song Embroidery. Therefore, Song Embroidery is also known as the “palace embroidery” or “official embroidery”. Bian Embroidery was even more common among civilians. At that time, there was a street named “Embroidery Lane” outside the east gate of Grand Xiangguo Temple in Kaifeng. It was a place where many embroiderers and embroidery works gathered and a famous market selling embroidery specifically. Ming Dynasty historian Tu Long described Bian Embroidery in Song Painting Embroidery of Exploration Anecdotes in this way: “Landscapes. Figures, pavilions, towers, birds and flowers in Song boudoir painting embroidery were finely embroidered without revealing the side seams. With one or two silk threads and a needle as tiny as hair, the embroidery is done with exquisite skills so that it looks splendid and gorgeous. The spirit and the color are even better than the original painting…” The capitals of the Yuan and Ming Dynasties were not established in Kaifeng. As a result, Bian Embroidery was less vigorously developed than it was in the previous dynasty. However, it developed among civilians in Kaifeng and the surrounding area without any stop.
The simple, refined and delicate Bian Embroidery is well known for embroidering famous paintings in the world. Bian Embroidery not only inherited the tradition of the court embroidery of the Song Dynasty, but also absorbed the local flavor of the folk embroidery in Henan and created a large number of stitches on such a basis. The Diecai Embroidery is suitable for embroider animals’ fur, for instance, is vivid and realistic and has strong three-dimensional sense. Bian Embroidery includes single-side embroidery, double-side embroidery, and double-side embroidery with different colors, etc. It is done in the following procedures: first, select the painting and sketch it down as the model; second, put soft silk satin on the frame and put the model drawing above the satin; select threads and stitches, and sometimes a thread has to be split into 36 strands, each of which is thinner than a human hair.