The Song Dynasty was the cradle for the birth of artistic embroidery, exerting a far-reaching influence on the development of Chinese embroidery. Its art is still highly respected (FIG. 19, 20). Artistic embroidery benefited from the promotion of paintings in the Song Dynasty in which the royal court witnessed a batch of outstanding painters. Their art, if perceived according to the view in contemporary times, is still glorious and incomparable in terms of achievements. In addition, the royal family of the Song Dynasty exerted unified management over the production of embroidery, having set up Directorate for Imperial Manufactories, Crafts Institute, Embroidery Office, Ornaments Office, Silk Brocade Workshop, and Palace Weaving and Dyeing Office, providing favorable objective conditions for the maturity of artistic embroidery.
Particularly under the reign of Emperor Zhao Ji in the Song Dynasty (1100–1126), an Embroidered Painting Specialty was established in Imperial Academy of Painting. Embroiderers of this specialty all used works of academy painters to create embroidery. Since the art of calligraphy and painting in the Song Dynasty provided plentiful painting-sketches for embroidery, artistic embroidery developed rapidly. An unprecedentedly high starting point gave rise to the vigorous development of embroidery art in the Song Dynasty. A number of artistic embroidery in the Song Dynasty all took the brushwork, lines, colors, and spiritual appeal of the Song paintings as standards of art, even over striding paintings. They brought the Song embroidery to the peak of amazing vividness and formed embroidery for appreciation independent of previous kinds, such as Plum-Flower, Bamboo and Parrot, White Eagle (FIG. 21), Riding Crane to Yaotai, Okra and Butterflies, and Hibiscus and Crab (FIG. 22).
After that, artistic embroidery advanced ahead as a late-comer and progressed together with embroidery for practical use with a long history, greatly expanding the space for the survival and development of embroidery, led the style of embroidery creation by many noted embroiderers and the growth of various schools of embroidery, enabling the art of Chinese embroidery to enter a new period.