'Hair embroidery, a traditional Chinese art, is a special needle-work of making patterns on silk with human hair as the thread. As Chinese hair is mostly black, it used to be known also as moxiu ("black ink" embroidery).

'Today the art excels by far its past attainment in colour and in variety. The colour is no longer limited to black. Others--blonde, amber, auburn, white and grey--of various shades are also used, totalling dozens of tones, mostly collected from areas of ethnic minorities. Occasionally, to give the lips of an ancient beauty their usual rosiness, white hair may be dyed red. But on the whole, pictures embroidered with hair are in its natural hues.

'To work with human hair is more difficult than with silk thread, for compared with the latter Chinese hair is stiff, slip pery and brittle, breaking easily when stretched with exertion. It requires a well trained skill but it is also rewarding in the end-product, which is elegantly neat, ero sion-free, worm-resistant and fast in colour.'


(Considering the literal use of  HAIR as a material, rather than asymbol in works of art)

© Katie Eilidh MacDonald Paul, all rights reserved