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Su embroidery: stunning Chinese folk arts (2)


14:28, November 15, 2012

Su embroidery is a folk art from Suzhou in eastern China that dates back more than 2,000 years. It’s famous for its subtle and refined needlework and typically features natural sceneries, such as flowers, birds, and animals.(

Yao Jianping, Suxiu artist, said, “We invested a lot of time but the effect only comes out slowly. It takes at least three years to learn the basic skills. And during these three years, life can get very dull and lonely, and there is no guaranteed profit. And nowadays, young people generally want to earn quick money, so the number of our apprentices is decreasing.”

However, Yao is not discouraged. She is finding a new way to turn this ancient art into a trendy fashion.

Yao Jianping said, "We can mix embroidery with fashion design. Our concept is to win the market with a small amount of refined and high-quality products. We have to build a system for design, production and marketing, and eventually build our own brand and get accepted by people."

But she can’t do it without financial support. The challenge is that banks rarely lend money to produce art.

Gong Liang, Asst. GM, Small Enterprise Financing Div., ICBC Suzhou, said, "Risk of artwork evaluation is high, as we do not have mature evaluation system in China. But we want to support cultural enterprises, especially the small and micro ones, so we made some innovation in form of collaterals: we introduce credit loan. In other words we issue loans to artists based good reputation and personal credibility, and level of influence in the market."

ICBC was the first to issue Yao loans worth 23 million yuan, or 3.7 million US dollars. And there could be more on the way.

Gong Liang said, "Currently we are developing copyright collaterals, we are also considering taking artworks themselves as collaterals. This would require professional evaluation firms to evaluate the artworks’ market prices. We will also set up a set of internal evaluation systems to minimise the risks on our side."

While banks are beginning to see the value of traditional art, Suzhou’s government is also building a market for culture companies to trade the rights to their intangible assets. As more funding sources open up, Yao’s

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