Chinese embroidery: 100 children playing

This is a Chinese embroidery depicting the Buddha and 100 children playing. My mother told me she counted once, and there were indeed 100 children. I tried to double check, but I kept losing track so I’m just going to trust her.  This embroidery is given to married couples – the design of 100 children playing is good luck for a growing family. Here’s a close-up (the children are all carefully embroidered doing all kinds of different things).

I couldn’t get a good photograph of the whole thing, so I’m including lots of closeups! The embroidery contains a lot of Chinese symbolism. For example, pine trees and cranes symbolize longevity. Here is a detail from around the cranes (I’m not sure if the children with kites also symbolize something, or if they are just kids playing):

Here is a closeup of the Buddha:

These kids have a dragon!

This girl is carrying a lotus and riding a dragon. She’s my favorite. One of my Chinese friends tells me that bodhisattvas ride dragons, deer, and cranes in stories. These bodhisattvas are mysterious and powerful, and these images of children riding these animals symbolize power. Lotuses are a major Buddhist symbol. So this embroidery is wishing the new family children, longevity, power, and luck.

Of course, if you are better informed than I am, I’d be delighted to hear more about the symbolism in this picture!

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16 Responses to Chinese embroidery: 100 children playing

  1. katiejay says:

    Bodhisattvas actually symbolize compassion, and the wisdom of the heart. Their power comes from being able to hear the cries of the world, and willingness to help. If they are thought of as personifying attributes, those are the attributes. If they are thought of or used in stories as actual beings, then they are advanced beings who have attained the ability to do some magical sounding things.

    This is a wonderful embroidery and thank you so much for sharing it, and the stories.Hands palm to palm. ktj

  2. GrannySue says:

    Absolutely breathtaking.

  3. GrannySue says:

    I forgot to ask, is this handwork? It is still amazing, but I wonder if it is hand done.

  4. Linda says:

    Except for a few, all the hairstyles seems the same and look as if they belong to girls. Are they mostly girls, or are those ornaments of some kind that boys wear, or are they hats of some kind that all children wear? Whatever they are the embroidery is stunning.

    • Hannah says:

      I was guessing maybe they’re almost all boys, because they are dressed alike except for the one in a pink carrying a lotus, and I think she is a girl (though I actually don’t know). I don’t think notions of gender-appropriate hairstyles necessarily apply universally, and those notions have definitely changed radically over time. I mean, if you think about it, appropriate men’s hairstyles at various cultures and time periods includes topknots, long braids, and big poofy grey wigs.

  5. Laura J says:

    I think the girl with the lotus is riding a chi-lin. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Kilin Fine animals. This one doesn’t have horn or horns, but some of them do. Your dragon, now, they have the long bodies. I am really enjoying the tour of your collection! Thanks for the great pictures and commentary!

  6. Dear Hannah, Thank you for your kind word at my blog the other day. I am sorry to say that I have not received your earlier e-mail. It could be filed in the spam file and already deleted automatically. I was kind of hibernated and I haven’t checked the spam files as often as I should have done. I am so honored that you feel my thimbles are worthy to mention in your blog. Thank you.
    The girl in pink robe in the last photo is riding on a Quilin as Laura said and not a dragon. Quilin is an imaginery animal, actually Quilin is Qui and Lin, a mated pair but it seems the name applies to a single animal, too. A dragon in Far East looks like a huge serpent and not the one in the West and nothing to do with fire breathing.
    Thank you and happy stitching.
    Chloe Patricia

  7. Linda says:

    I keep coming back to look at this. It just makes me happy to see it, and I would
    enjoy having something like it to look at every day. Thank you so much for sharing.

  8. Dorothy says:

    hang this in your bedroom and it blesses you with fertility.

  9. marina francis says:

    it is very nice can you send me the design for childrens blanket

  10. hi i also have an embroidery of 100 children playing mine differs from yours, i wonder how long this takes to do.it fascinates me regards dorothy

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