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Beijing pictures, Jade Family

Jade is believed to bring happiness and luck for the people, keeps away evil, and good for one's health. With its clear jadeite qualities, Hotan Jade has enjoyed a good reputation since ancient times. Its history can be traced back to 1200 years ago.

Jade Family is a Hotan jade shop, which sells finished jade accessories as well as incomplete jade materials that you can design yourself. From jade necklace and bracelet, to large jade home  adornments, Jade Family carries a large selection of jade merchandises.

The shop owner, Ms Cao, told me their story of jade collection in Xinjiang. She said that the mountains south of Hotan City are called Jade Mountains, and the river beside the Hotan city is called the Jade River. Even today, you can find people picking jade from the river. Only in the Jade river one can find the best quality Jade, but the mountains are still mined for cheap jade product.

She showed me a top-quality jade horse. Even though I know little about jade, I still appreciated its whiteness and brightness. The item is sold at RMB 30,000. Another piece I liked was the ¡°Jade Mountain.¡± It had a shape of a mountain, with three old men standing by pine trees. All these represent longevity in China. It costs RMB 2500.

Jade Family also sells some daily items, like ceramic ware, tobacco bottles, and fingerstalls popular back in the early 20th century.

What I Appreciate:
Quality jade

What Customer Appreciate:
Hotan jade and other antique porcelain

Beijing pictures, DaZeTang

Located in Shijingshan Antique City, DaZeTang is a shop selling old-time porcelain ware. The shop owner, Mr Xie, is a ceramic connoisseur.

I was impressed by Mr Xie's knowledge about porcelain, which he happily shared. He showed me a pair of hat-hangers made around 1912. During that period, workers used Fen Cai, a kind of porcelain coloring skill, to portray the beautiful patterns on the wares. But it was later found that Fen Cai items contained lead. So they adopted the European appliqu¨¦ technique later on. So it¡¯s rare to see a Feng Cai work today. The hat-hangers are sold for RMB 3500.

Mr Xie is also a good storyteller. Almost every ceramic ware in his shop has a story, such as a 700 year old porridge vase. It was made in early Ming Dynasty, and tells the story of Mi Fu, a famous Song dynasty calligrapher. Mi Fu often examined stones and bamboos to find the spirit of calligraphy. And he perfected the stability and tenacity of Chinese characters by studying the growth of nature. The story¡¯s philosophy was: calligraphy training is something beyond calligraphy itself. I interpret as ¡°it is important to cultivate the mood in order to produce good works.¡± The price for the porridge vase was pegged at RMB 3000.

There are a lot of other porcelain wares in the shop Mr Xie would like to share. So if you want to learn more, feel free to pay a visit.

What I appreciate:
porcelain knowledge

What customer appreciate:
porcelain knowledge,  old-time ceramic ware

Beijing pictures, The root of prize-winning sculptures

I was surprised to find so many prize-winning artworks at Zi Ying Xuan, especially when I found out what they sell. The studio, owned by Mr. Ma Ziying, makes sculptures using tree barks. 

When I visited the Antique City in Shijingshan district, I was first attracted by beautiful and professional photos of his art by the shop window. It seemed to be a tea shop at first glance, but Mr. Ma came by to tell me that he deals with root sculptures.

The shop displays many of his root-carving works, three of which have won prizes in the Liu Kaiqu Chinese art contest. The first is ¡°Struggle¡±, featuring a man struggling to free himself from all restrictions. The second is ¡°Tai Ji¡±, which depicts the Tao concept of infinity. The third tells the story of Nu Wa, an ancient goddess in Chinese folklore, repairing the sky to keep it from falling humans.

But Mr Ma told me his favorite is the "Dragon Spirit", a sculpture in shape of a flying dragon. The root, which came from virgin forest in southeast China, is 1500 years old.

Root sculpture price ranges from several thousands to tens of thousands. Zi Ying Xuan also sells hand-made purses designed by Mr Ma's friends. I personally like the leather one with a totem of a Chinese dragon.

What I Appreciate:
Mr Ma's knowledge of sculpture culture

What Customer Appreciate:
Masterful sculpture skill and works

Beijing pictures, Drawing on Gourd Bottle

Calabash, or hulu in Chinese, is one of the first cultivated plants in the world.  In the old days, doctors in China believed hulu to be a traditional medicine. Dried calabash is also used to contain liquids, often liquors or medicine. Nowadays, hulu is more used as a decoration, upon which artists would draw different patterns.

Ju De Tang is such a calabash-carving studio. Upon my visit, I saw that its owner, Guo Jude, was a winner of 4th China Gift Designing Contest. Mr. Guo told me his life has become much busier since then. He has been invited to draw and carve over sixty images of ambassadors and leaders from other countries. And he¡¯s even taken in some students. I felt happy for him, knowing that years of hard work and dedication really paid off.

You would find a large variety of gourds inside the shop in various sizes. For smaller carvings, Mr Guo could finish within 2 hours, and it only costs RMB 50. But for the large one, due to the rarity of the material and the complexity of the art, it could cost over a thousand RMBs.

You can bargain a little bit, but it is not really customary.

What I Appreciate:
Traditional art skill

What Customer Appreciate:
Traditional art skill, bottle gourd designing

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Beijing Shopping: Jade is believed to bring happiness and luck for the people, keeps away evil, and good for one's health. With its clear jadeite qualities, Hotan Jade has enjoyed a good reputation since ancient times....