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Stitches against time

By Luo Wangshu and Ji Jin | China Daily | Updated: 2014-03-20 07:29

Stitches against time

Yao Houzhi, who suffers from breast cancer, tries to spend every minute of her waking hours making embroidery so she can leave a legacy for her children. [Photo by Xie Daomei / for China Daily]

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Bedridden with breast cancer, a worried mother turns to embroidery to fund a future for her children, Luo Wangshu and Ji Jin report in Chongqing.

A struggling family cannot predict future challenges, but the mother prefares the best way she can by working on her embroidery while she battles the pain of cancer, aiming to leave a legacy for her children.

The 39-year-old mother, Yao Houzhi, from Wuxi county of Chongqing, has taken three and a half years to complete a work of silk and thread that is 6.5 by 0.85 meters.

The embroidery is a replica of Along the River During the Qingming Festival, one of the few surviving works by the painter Zhang Zeduan (1085-1145), which is considered to be among his greatest pieces.

The work contains 684 characters, 96 animals, 122 houses, 88 palankeens (hand-carried closed carriages), 25 boats and 124 trees, which required 1.27 million stitches to complete.

The price of the embroidery work has attracted a bid of 200,000 yuan ($33,000).

"I will sell it when my children need money for school," Yao says, shrugging off the idea that the money could free her from the pain of cancer and maybe save her life.

"I don't know how much time I have left, and I want to leave something for my kids."

Yao has two children, a 14 year-old son and an 8-year-old daughter.

The mother has been suffering from breast cancer since 2006, when the boy was 6 and the girl was 1.

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