Embroidery is quite common among Xinzhou folk people: embroidery works in the area around Daixian County are of a rigorous, gorgeous and elegant style; those in Wutai County, simple and decent; those in Xinzhou, Dingxiang and Yuanping, original and beautiful. Xinzou Embroidery can be roughly divided into three types: clothing , household articles and sacrificial items.
Traditional embroidery in mainly for the decoration of clothes and it often appears on women and children’ s clothes. Different parts of women’s clothes are embroidered with different patterns. The pattern of two connected squares which represents safety, good luck and wishes is often embroidered on the cuffs; the pattern of Ruyi is often embroidered on the collar and decorated with flower patterns; skirts are mostly rimmed and embroidered on the black, blue or red ground; the embroidery on the jacket is usually embroidered on the part of the chest and commonly seen patterns include fish playing among the lotus flowers. And peonies; on the shoes uppers, patterns such as butterflies resting on flowers and plunking laurel branch from the toad palace are embroidered. Liangguan, which is used by women to tie up hair in summer, is often embroidered on a black ground. The bellybands worn by rural children are more often embroidered and edged in the red color with auspicious or multiplication patterns such as children and the lotus forever riches and honor; sometimes the five poisonous insects of scorpion, snake, centipede, wall lizard and toad would also be embroidered with the wish of warding them off. Boy’s bibs are often embroidered with patterns like paired tigers or lions head to head and five bats surrounding the Chinese character Shou (meaning “longevity”); while the girls’ bibs are embroidered with patterns such as five butterflies surrounding flowers, a boy sitting on five lotus petals, and five fish playing among lotus flowers. The earmuffs that children wear in winter to warm up ears are usually made in the shape of peaches with embroidered auspicious patterns of animals, flowers or birds on them. Boy’s shoes are usually tiger-head shoes with the tiger’s head on the toecap, the tiger’s feet on both sides and the tiger’s tail at the rear. Sometimes a green toad would be embroidered on the toecap and such shoes are called “toad-shoes” with the meaning of plucking the laurel branch from the toad palace (literally meaning “achieving success”). There are also piglet shoes and puppy shoes, and so on, all of which are influenced by the local customs. Girls’ shoes and boys’ shoes are the same in shape except that the embroidery patterns on girls’ shoes are mostly birds and flowers which indicate good luck and liveliness.
As for the embroidery applied on daily use articles, pillows and tiger-head pillows are the commonest. The tiger-head pillows include double-tiger-head, human-face-tiger-head, and tiger-head-and-fish-tail and toad-head pillows. These pillows are exquisitely embroidered and the decoration patterns and shapes are very unique. They can be used as both children’s pillows and toys. The insoles are often gifted by the unmarried young women to their fiancé and they are embroidered with patterns like boundless sea of happiness, everything as one wished, lotus boy. Besides, there are also backrest and seat cushions made by various techniques such as embroidering, Gehua and Qihua. The sedan chairs used in wedding ceremonies and the sedan curtains and covers used are also made by those techniques.
For sacrificial purpose, embroidery is often applied on the altar curtains in the mourning hall or temples and the curtains of the shrine with patterns like dragons, phoenixes, cranes. Gods of Good Fortune, Prosperity, Longevity and Happiness, and the Eight Immortals and the Treasures in Their Hands. Besides. Embroidery is also used for palls and shrouds for the funerals, and the material selection and embroidery skills are very particular.