Beautiful Chinese Porcelain, Embroidery, and other Arts
May's Gallery has Chinese Porcelain from Jingdezhen and Embroidery from Suzhou that you will be proud to own or give as a unique and thoughtful gift. We have lovely pieces for all budgets. We also have figurines, dinner sets, jars, vases, bowls, and lots of other items in many colors and styles. Many of our customers who have been to China are amazed at the quality and variety of our selection and the reasonableness of our prices.
Our Suzhou Embroideries are the work of award winning embroiderers in the finest Suzhou tradition, featuring Eastern and Western motifs. If you want to see how this remarkable craft is done, Fan Xuehua (a fourth-generation embroiderer) often has a work in progress in the store, and is happy to demonstrate the art.
Need a large splash of color, or a soothing design for a wall hanging? We have a large selection of traditional hanging scrolls featuring animals and birds, people, floral and landscape designs. Stop in and see us!
1377 Main Street, First Floor
Waltham, MA 02451
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Minutes from I-95/128, on Main St. (Route 117) just west of Bear Hill Road. Free parking.
Why Jingdezhen Porcelain?
China is a large country with resources for ceramics production spread out over many different regions. Early ceramics have been discovered that are thought to have been created as early as 9000 BC. The early products were made of earthenware. Over centuries ceramic production evolved in terms of the materials used, production techniques, and colors and glazes. This process resulted in the production of porcelain. Starting in the mid-1300’s the Ming Dynasty Emperor decided to designate Jingdezhen (jing-de-jen) as the official site for manufacturing Imperial porcelain. Through the following centuries emperors commissioned thousands of pieces from the kilns at Jingdezhen for use in the Imperial household as well as for gifts of state. American and European merchants in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries exported Jingdezhen porcelains to their home countries for discriminating customers - the "China Trade." Chinese porcelain was prized throughout the Americas, Europe, and the Middle East for its beauty and usefulness. Jingdezhen has set the standard for making porcelain objects known and imitated throughout the world. It is still known as “Porcelain City.” Jingdezhen porcelain is found in many museum collections, attesting to its history and beauty and the skill of the artisans who created it.
We travel to Jingdezhen to purchase our porcelain and import it into the U.S. We carefully select each piece individually, evaluating it for design, quality, craftsmanship, style, and value. We reject many fine pieces that fail to meet our standards.
Where is Jingdezhen?
Jingdezhen is a city of over 1.5 million people located in northeast Jiangxi Province, China. It is about 734 miles (1128 km) south of Beijing. The city dates back over 2000 years and has produced porcelain for over 1700 years. It is located near Chang and Le'an rivers -tributaries of Poyang Lake - and near the eastern bank of the Yangtse River. These were important waterways for the transportation of clays for ceramic production and wood for the kilns in the early days of the region’s history. They also provided an avenue for the export of porcelain to Europe and America. Jingdezhen was known to produce high quality ceramics as early as the Tang Dynasty (618-907).
Suzhou Embroidery, also called Su embroidery, has a 2000-year history. The Su style is known for its wide color palette, realism and tight stitches. Many viewers comment that a work of Su Embroidery looks like a photograph or a painting. With skillful stitching and a keen eye for color and composition, Suzhou embroiderers painstakingly create beautiful portraits, still lifes, landscapes, or floral or animal designs. Each piece is hand embroidered, using techniques developed over hundreds of years. Suzhou embroidery is rendered from silk threads sewn onto a silk background material. Unlike machine embroidery, which uses threads of uniform thickness and stitches of similar length, a Su artisan will often split a single silk thread into ½, ¼, or smaller thicknesses in order to attain the desired visual effect. For example, it is easy to understand that in a portrait it may be desirable to embroider the dress of the subject with a thicker thread to give a realistic appearance of the cloth of which the dress is made. However, to portray the gentle gradations of skin color and lighting, only with the use of extremely thin threads will the artisan be able to capture the likeness of the person and create a realistic effect.
Where is Suzhou?
Suzhou is a city in Jiangsu Province in eastern China, on the lower reaches of the Yangtze River. It is close to Shanghai. Suzhou is known as “the Venice of the East” due to the canals within the city.
Artist in Residence
Embroiderer Xuehua Fan performs hand-sown Su-style embroidery inside May's Gallery. Ms. Fan is a fourth-generation embroiderer who creates silk embroidery paintings in the traditional style. She is happy to demonstrate her techniques, and her beautiful works are available for sale in the Gallery.