Beijing carved lacquer, or Diao Qi in Chinese, originated in the Tang Dynasty over 1,400 years ago. It used to be made only for the royal family. But today, carved lacquer has become a Chinese folk handicraft available to everyone.
A carved lacquer ware coats a copper or wooden lining with up to hundreds of layers of lacquer. Then intricate patterns are engraved on its dried and hard surface. It usually takes three months to two years to finish. Most carved lacquer pieces features a red-on-black design.
Recently, I revisited a carved lacquer shop on Zhushikou East Street. Its name has changed to Xiang Hong Lacquer Ware. The shop keeper, Mr. Zhu, greeted me warmly.
I then proceeded to look at the carved lacquers around the shop, all made at his factory in Gu An County, Hebei Province. They offer both handmade and machine-made products. The former is much higher priced. All of them are sturdy, elegant, and forever keep their vermilion color.
Looking around, I noticed that each small pendant of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals cost only 5 yuan. Prices for bracelets range from RMB 20 to RMB 150, necklaces from RMB 20 to RMB 200, and vases from RMB 100 to RMB 3000. Carved lacquer plates are ideal for decoration, present, or souvenir.
What I appreciated
Folk handicraft, ideal for present or souvenir
What customers appreciate
Traditional Chinese artwork, exquisite workmanship
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