Traditional arts in Zhouzhuang


Updated: 2016-05-13

Zhouzhuang town in Kunshan city attracts thousands of tourists each year with its mesmerizing sights and water town lifestyle. It is also home to a variety of arts and crafts visitors can bring home to remind them of their unique trip.

Kesi or k'o-ssu

Kesi, or k'o-ssu, is a unique type of Chinese silk tapestry technique. A kesi work requires each color area to be woven from a separate bobbin, different from the continuous weft brocade. The process of creating a kesi work is complex, time-consuming and tests a weaver's skills.

Traditional arts in Zhouzhuang

The kesi technique is often deployed to represent pictorial designs typical in traditional Chinese paintings. [Photo from Kunshan Tourism Resort]

The technique was used to mount or copy famous paintings and calligraphy works back in the Song Dynasty (960-1279). Examples of such works still exist today. The royal families of the Ming and Qing Dynasties (1368-1644, 1644-1912) adopted the technique to make imperial robes and emblems indicating government officials’ rankings.

Less than 200 weavers have the skills required to making a kesi work in China. Only three or four of them are masters of the art and they are in their 60s or 70s, according to China Economic Weekly.

Where to buy kesi works: Jinketang, Zhouzhuang town, Kunshan

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