Master of Chinese dressmaking shares her craft

By Han Junhong in Changchun and Zhou Huiying | | Updated: 2020-08-13 15:01
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Chen Yuqiu cuts cloth carefully in the process of making a qipao. [Photo by Wang Zhisheng/for]

Over the past 30 years, Chen Yuqiu has made more than 100 exquisite qipao dresses.

The 52-year-old craftswoman in Jilin, Jilin province, is a provincial-level inheritor of Manchu handmade qipao (or cheongsam) skills.

Jilin figures prominently in the history of the Manchu, whose diet, dress and customs have influenced people until modern times.

Chen began learning the art of qipao when she was around 20 years old. She is now skilled in every step of the process, from selection of materials to measurements and cutting the cloth. It takes about a month to make a qipao, and each step requires special attention.

"Like all traditional crafts, Manchu qipao has faced the challenges of time and trends, including difficulty in finding suitable cloth and markets," she said. "I am surprised to see an increasing number of youngsters getting interested in traditional qipao-making techniques."

With her lectures and seminars about her craft, she hopes to keep the traditional craft alive.

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