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January 20, 2021

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Ex-prisoner embroiders new career

After studying Gu embroidery for eight years in jail, a former prisoner was employed as a tutor of Songjiang District Cultural Center yesterday.

Xu Hua (not his real name) was jailed in 2006 at age 19 for a violent crime. He was released from the prison in Qingpu District last month.

Through art exhibitions and other jail activities, Xu came to know about the national-level intangible cultural heritage in 2012 for the first time.

He is the only male tutor of Gu embroidery so far, the 35-year-old said. “Gu embroidery turned a person with a machete in his hand to a man who can do beautiful needlework.”

The style of embroidery originated in the city in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644). Because this style of embroidery is laborious and difficult, it was nearly lost until the 1970s when a vocational school in Songjiang District set up a Gu embroidery major. It was a turning point and an increasing number of people started to learn and research this cultural treasure.


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