The Mangghuer areas of Minhe Hui and Mangghuer (Tu, Monguor) Autonomous County, Haidong Region, Qinghai Province, PR China are located in the south of the county. The Yellow River separates Minhe County from Gansu, to the south.

The embroidery featured here was scanned by Aila Pullinen (of Finland) in the context of her research on Mangghuer embroidery.

Aila writes:

My first contact with Mangghuer embroidery was in 1999 when I was studying in Helsinki University in the Department of Asian and African Languages and Cultures. I joined a seminar in spring on ‘the Languages and Peoples of Qinghai.’ At the end of the course, I wrote an essay concerning the wedding ceremonies of Chinese families in Jingning Village, Gangou Township, Minhe County Hui and Mangghuer Autonomous County. While reading related materials, I ran across mention about the bride and her family preparing many embroidered articles as presents for the groom’s relatives. Embroidery has also interested me to the point where I have personally created a number of embroidered articles and this is probably why this caught my attention. However, the material I had in hand lacked information about these embroidered wedding gifts and the Mangghuer embroidery tradition and there were no pictures. In doing further research, I found amble material about Chinese embroidery with the Miao being frequently alluded to as representative of minorities living in China.

In summer of 2001 I had just about decided to visit Qinghai to investigate Mangghuer embroidery. While preparing for the trip I received a message from a researcher who had been living in China a long while. He informed me that the Mangghuer continued to do embroidery and that he was not aware of anyone who had studied it. He added that this would be a very useful study in the cause of preserving Mangghuer culture and also mentioned that he had a personal collection of Mangghuer embroidery that I was welcome to photograph, scan, and study. I then decided to embark on an orientation trip to the Mangghuer to learn more about local circumstances, possibilities to find assistants and informants, and to create a network of contacts that is a given to doing research in China.

I had hardly arrived in Qinghai when the project got quickly off the ground with the help of several people. I had excellent assistants and local inhabitants’ attitude toward my study was very positive. Village women were willing to show me their embroidered items and tell me about them. The embroidery tradition had not been examined previously; it was aesthetically and technically of high quality and it was much appreciated among the Mangghuer. I quickly decided to write my master’s thesis on the Mangghuer embroidery tradition for these reasons and also because beginning in the 1970s, significant changes in techniques, tools and objects had occurred. The old flat stitch or sa-embroidery, especially, gave every indication of quickly vanishing. Furthermore, the women who know this old technique were very aged. I realized that with their passing, would also vanish the knowledge of the things that were made, for whom and for what reason and also where and how they were made.