Designs and stitches have been exchanged between so many different cultures and geographical areas, through travel, trade and the availability of printed design books, that many design elements are now common to several cultures.
Even today, it is fascinating to see the same motifs occurring in the traditional peasant embroideries of countries as far apart, geographically, as the Greek Islands, Mexico and Thailand.
Some historians suggest that the development of cross stitch owes much to the craftsmanship of the Chinese, since this type of embroidery is known to have flourished during the T’ang Dynasty between 618AD and 906AD and a strong rural tradition of counted cross stitch still existed there during the early twentieth century.
It is feasible that techniques and designs spread from China via India and Egypt to the great civilisations of Greece and Rome, and from there throughout the countries of the eastern Mediterranean and the Middle East.
There is evidence that these immigrants influenced the designs of Chinese arts and crafts, particularly those used for textiles.
The patterns on many Chinese textiles show great similarity to those found on Persian fabrics.
There are many regional variations of similar cross stitch shapes, including eight-pointed star, heart, flower and bird motifs, as each basic shape is translated to fit the grid of the fabric in a slightly different way.
In rural areas of western China, cross stitch was nearly always worked in indigo blue thread on coarse white cotton fabric.Peasant embroidery is a purely domestic skill which is passed down through the generations from mother to daughter.