Friday, February 15, 2008

Family Heirlooms

When I traveled to China for Love Without Boundaries last spring there was a wonderful and unexpected surprise for me. The surprise was that the person who was going to facilitate my trip had a family emergency and could not accompany me. However, Yvonne was a friend of the original facilitator and available to travel and translate. As my travel mates and I got to know Yvonne, we just loved her. We talked and talked, and everyone learned more about how Love Without Boundaries fits into the lives of the children we serve. As our small group of volunteers parted from Yvonne’s company, she gave me a small bag of five silk embroidery pieces made by her grandmother. Yvonne, from Hunan Province where embroidery is a very fine art, wanted to give Love Without Boundaries some family heirlooms for the “Born In My Heart” auction to raise funds for the children that LWB heals.

Yvonne became a personal friend on that trip and more recently, Love Without Boundaries China Director of Education. I asked Yvonne to tell me about her grandmother’s embroidery pieces, and this is what she wrote:

“My grandmother was born in 1927 and passed away in February last year (2007) at the age of 80.These works were given to me by her ten years ago as a great gift celebrating my family moving to a new apartment. My grandma told me that these were embroidered by her twenty years ago. At that time she had to wear glasses because of age. She learned to embroider when she was ten from an old woman in her village. By the way she was born in a small village named LangLi in Changsha county, more than 20 kms away to Changsha city, the capital of Hunan province.

Her parents were farmers of many generations, she studied for a few years of the classic Chinese in a private school and learned to embroider as well because in the countryside there is a tradition: Any girls have to embroider after she gets married so that she can embroider some items for her family like baby shoes, dresses, hats, bibs, pillow covers and quilt covers etc. Otherwise people will say you are not an able-bodied woman and cannot manage the family well. Her mother-in-law and father-in-law won't like her. It took 3 years to be an apprentice and she knew how to embroider the works by herself. Embroidery is just a spare time hobby for the girls in the countryside because their main job is to take care of their kids, do some housework and sometimes helps their husband’s farm work. My grandma told me that at that time her good friends got married she also sent the embroidery items as gifts. They never sold their products on the markets. Now people are more interested in this old art and want to buy some as collections. The government also encourages people to continue this art and there are some factories were built in Changsha county so that more products are produced. If you want to get more information of Hunan embroidery you can read the introduction booklets you got from Hunan Embroidery Research Institute.


As you can see, the embroidery is in the Hunan style and exquisite. The children that benefit from the sale of these works of art have a wonderful auntie and grandma looking over them.

Linda Mitchell, Associate Director of Education

There is still time to make a donation to our annual art auction to help fund heart surgeries. Suggestions for artwork include sketches, paintings, photographs, quilts, sculpture, clothing, heritage items, custom scrapbooks or videos, jewelry…something that reflects your own talents, passion and love...straight from your heart to that of a child in need.The deadline is April 1st, and you can email for more information.