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9691

Cloisonne is one of China¡¯s famous traditional handicrafts. It combines the art of porcelain and copper. Showing off an elegant cloisonn¨¦ vase on your shelf will make your room more appealing and tasteful. Several days ago, I happened to visit a cloisonn¨¦ shop in southeast Beijing.

 

I was immediately attracted to a wide variety of colorful cloisonn¨¦ vases displayed on the shelves. Before long, the shop owner Mr. Nie came up to me and gave a brief introduction to his products.

 

Cloisonn¨¦ became very popular during the reign of Emperor Jingtai (1450 - 1456). At that time, artisans focused on blue, which is pronounced ¡®Lan¡¯ in Chinese. So the Chinese call it Jingtai Lan, after the emperor and the color.

 

In ancient China, cloisonn¨¦ was only used by the royal family. It could not be made in private workshops or sold in common marketplaces until the late Qing dynasty (1636 - 1912).

 

Mr. Nie said all of the items in his shop were made in his own factory.

 

When I asked him which one was the best seller, he passed me a blue and white cloisonn¨¦ vase. It felt very smooth. The pattern included blue flowers, clouds, and a big dragon.

 

Besides the large vases, this shop also has smaller items like jewelry.

 

What I appreciated

Superior workmanship, beautiful colors, cloisonn¨¦ vases

 

What customers appreciate

Traditional Chinese handicrafts, fine craftsmanship

Views
7499

Like oil paintings? When you¡¯re in Beijing, don¡¯t miss the city's largest art market. Recently I visited an oil painting shop on the first floor of this market.

 

The shop owner is Ms. Chen. She told me that all of her oil paintings were created by contemporary Chinese artists. They can be divided into two categories: classic Western-style oil paintings, and oil paintings that combine Western and Chinese styles. The themes include figures, still objects, and landscapes.

 

Looking around at the paintings hanging on the walls, my eyes finally stopped on one entitled ¡®Waves.¡¯ I love the sea, so this was the one that most appealed to me. The waves tumble with white froth, and seagulls are flying just above the sea. The picture looked so lifelike that I could almost smell the salt water and hear the sounds of the surf. The shop owner told me this work took ten days to finish.

 

I also liked their paintings depicting grazing horses, and a mountain spotted with snow, reflected in a peaceful lake.

 

What I appreciated

Lifelike oil paintings

 

What customers appreciate

Oil paintings combining Western and Chinese styles

Views
8571

There is a saying in ancient China: Even he who has a big sum of money cannot buy porcelain covered with gold leaves. Last week, however, I found a Jingdezhen porcelain shop where porcelain covered with gold leaves was on sale.

 

The shopkeeper Mr. Yu greeted me warmly. He told me he comes from Jingdezhen, the ¡®Capital of Porcelain.¡¯ The company he works at is the only manufacturer of porcelain with gold leaf patterns. To master the unique process, a number of skillful potters have been experimenting for over 14 years.

 

Then he showed me the most amazing item in the shop ¨C a red porcelain tea set covered with gold leaves. The golden pattern on the big teapot features a dragon and a phoenix. The whole set looked very gorgeous and luxurious.

 

And what is more, when you put a teacup under the spout, tea will start pouring automatically! As the water level nearly reaches the rim, the pouring stops. And if the tea is clear enough, you can see a beautiful girl¡¯s portrait appearing at the bottom of the cup.

 

Due to their exclusive techniques, each of their high-end porcelain items is different from any others. I must say they are very fit for any collection.

 

Apart from charming artistic porcelain, this shop also has a variety of bone china tableware on display, such as bowls, plates, and ashtrays. They are high quality but inexpensive. If you pick up two pieces and knock them together gently, a resonant and melodious sound will drift in the air.

 

What I appreciated

Unique Jingdezhen porcelain, top quality

 

What customers appreciate

Jingdezhen porcelain, superior workmanship

Views
6717

As a tea lover, you must know green tea, but most likely you know little about white tea. So last Saturday when I passed by a white tea shop on the Maliandao tea street, I decided to go in and check it out.

 

The shop owner Ms. Mei greeted me, and asked me to sit at a big tea table to taste their tea. While brewing, she gave me a brief introduction to her products.

 

The tea leaves here are picked at a large ecological tea plantation in southeast China¡¯s Fujian province. White tea is ranked as one of the 6 major types of Chinese tea. It is rich in amino acids and provitamin A. Drinking white tea often helps lower your blood viscosity, blood pressure, and blood sugar. If you drink a cup of white tea in the hot summer, you will be kept from heat stroke all day long.

 

With this, she handed me a glass of white tea called Baihao Yinzhen, or White Tipped Silver Needle in English. I saw straight tea leaves floating in the water. Some of them were slowly dropping to the bottom, but they still stayed upright.

 

The fragrance was not strong, but very agreeable. The apricot yellow color was quite clear. I took a sip, and the tea was soft and smooth in my mouth. After tasting it, I felt relaxed and refreshed both in body and in mind.

 

Apart from white tea, the shop also carries other kinds of Chinese tea like Pu¡¯er tea and Oolong tea.

 

What I appreciated

Unique white tea, healthy tea

 

What customers appreciate

Health-giving white tea, Chinese tea

Views
6780

If you like oil paintings, I bet you would like to visit a Chinese-style oil painting shop on your trip to Beijing. The shop is called Ju Qi Zhai, and it¡¯s located on Liulichang East Street.

 

When I entered the shop, the shop owner Mr. Huang received me warmly and gave me a brief self-introduction. He himself is an artist. He was brought up in a small, poor village. Though life was difficult there, he and his friends held out hope for a brighter future. So he set hope as the theme of most of his paintings.

 

He then brought me to one of his paintings. I was attracted by the Great Wall on it right away. Instead of a grey color, this Great Wall was red. And pretty soon I realized that the Great Wall was made of a team of boys. Above their heads there is a white dove flying in the sky.

 

The dove represents hope and peace that will fall upon children. The children, wearing red, symbolize a prosperous and powerful country.

 

Some other paintings show the traditional courtyards of old Beijing. As I was raised in Beijing, these pictures reminded me of my childhood memories. The traditional courtyards are shown exactly as they were: the grey bricks, a wooden gate posted with red couplets, and a pair of stone lions keeping guard at the door.

 

I have to admit that old Beijing really has a lingering charm.

 

The artist also focuses on painting Chinese ethnic minority girls. Each of them is wearing the colorful traditional dress of her minority group. Some of the charming girls are playing flutes or other instruments. Gazing at them attentively, I felt like I could hear the melodious sound.

 

What I appreciated

Oil paintings depicting ordinary life

 

What customers appreciate

Chinese-style oil paintings

Views
7907

The Miao are one of the most fascinating ethnic minorities in China. Recently, I found a Miao handicrafts shop on Yandai Xiejie. I was impressed by their silver ornaments and wax printing works.

 

The shop owner Mr. Zhang was dressed in the Miao traditional dress. He told me that Miao silver ornaments have a history of 400 years. The Miao have a variety of items that can brighten up your look from head to toe: silver headdresses, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, clothing accessories, waistbands, and anklets.

 

Miao girls are very partial to silver jewelry, as they see silver as a symbol of purity. And according to Miao customs, the larger, heavier, and more plentiful silver ornaments are considered the most beautiful.

 

Mr. Zhang showed me a pair of silver earrings. They feature long, beautiful twin birds. The silver threads are as thin as hair. Every detail is so fine.

 

The headdresses looked pretty heavy. I was afraid to wear any one of them, and it¡¯s not a good idea if you have a slender neck.

 

The blue cloth items with white patterns are actually wax printings. The patterns show beautiful flowers and Miao girls.

 

The cloth is made in a unique way: they draw an image on a piece of fabric with wax, and dip the fabric into a vat that contains dark blue dye. The parts of the fabric with wax cannot be dyed, so it will show off a gorgeous white pattern when the wax is removed.

 

At last, here¡¯s a tip to identify a real wax printing: Take a close look at a real wax painting work, you will find a number of fine, irregular blue crackles on the white area. They are caused when folding the wax-covered area, and the blue dye seizes the opportunity to permeate through the cracks.

 

What I appreciated

Unique arts and crafts of the Miao minority, the Miao silver jewelry

 

What customers appreciate

Exquisite silver ornaments, superb craftsmanship

Views
5875

Tea is good for your health, but maybe you don't like its taste. How about putting some delicious fruits or other food into it to make it more flavorful? Cheng Yuan tea house is a good place to find such tea.

The tea house has a large variety of tea, including green tea, flower tea, black tea, and oolong tea. But the one that I found most attractive was ginseng-oolong tea.

When the shop owner showed me the tea in a brick, I just couldn't believe it. The tea leaves were stuck tightly together, like beautiful green stones. Put them into a teapot, and the bricks immediately open and release the tea leaves with a pleasant aroma.

As a mixture of oolong tea leaves and precious ginseng, so it tastes a bit sweet.

According to the shop owner, drinking ginseng-oolong tea is especially good for the eyes, throat, and teeth. If you drink it after drinking alcohol, it can remove the dry and uncomfortable feeling in your throat.

Another special tea offered in this shop is litchi-black tea. It's mixed litchis and black tea. In the wintertime, drinking this tea can keep your stomach warm, and more remarkably, improve your skin!

The tea shop also has various tea sets: those made of porcelain, glass, and purple clay. The transparent glass tea set is suitable for brewing flower tea. You can enjoy the tea leaves dancing in the cup, and its beautiful color changes in just minutes.

The purple clay teapots are surely indispensable for any tea lover. A brown teapot in the shape of a cute pumpkin looked so appealing. Another teapot has a funny fish lid with beautiful water lines around, so it looks like the fish has just jumped out of your tea!

This shop has so many interesting things to discover. I am sure it won't disappoint you when you come here.

What I appreciate:

Precious and tasty tea

What customers appreciate:

A great variety of tea and tea sets

Views
7448

Carved lacquer is a traditional form of Chinese art that has existed for at least 1,400 years. If you have a chance to visit the famous ancient culture street in Beijing ¨C called Liulichang ¨C be sure to visit this shop. You will find a number of handmade decorations.

 

I went there last week. A lot of carved lacquer plates, vases, and jewelry boxes are displayed orderly on the shelves. Most of them feature a black background and a red, elevated pattern. The patterns show birds and flowers, dragons and phoenixes, landscapes, and characters.

 

The shopkeeper, Mr. Zhu, told me the emperors of the Ming and Qing dynasties cared for carved lacquer very much. At that time, some royal lacquer ware workshops were set up. Their products were used exclusively by the royal family.

 

Want to know how a piece of carved lacquer ware is made? Take a carved lacquer plate for example, which has tens or hundreds of layers of paint on a thin plate. When it is half dry, artists engrave various patterns in the thick paint. Once the paint is completely dry, the color will never fade.

 

I couldn¡¯t help picking up a carved lacquer plate. It features a vivid picture of the Great Wall. I touch the pattern, and it felt very hard. The plate can be mounted on a wooden stand, and be displayed on your shelf.

 

What I appreciated

Fine carved lacquer ware, excellent craftsmanship

 

What customers appreciate

Traditional Chinese artwork, good decorations

Views
5897

Seals have played an important role in Chinese history. They symbolize power, dignity, and authority. If you come to Beijing, you can get a rare and beautiful stone seal with your name inscribed on it.

 

On the second floor of Hongqiao Market near the Temple of Heaven, there is a seal-cutting shop. I went there a few days ago.

 

The shopkeeper is also a seal sculptor. He told me that seals were widely used in ancient China, especially during the Warring States Period.

 

Then he showed me a number of elegant Shoushan stones, the best stone for making seals. They only come from the southeastern part of China. One can easily be attracted by their natural luster and nice colors, such as yellow, red, white, grey, and black.

 

Some of the stones have small sculptures on top like lions, unicorns, and any of the 12 Chinese zodiac animals. Just pick one the most appealing to you, and the shopkeeper will beautifully carve your name right away.

 

Apart from seals, the shop also carries various traditional Chinese handicrafts like bronze, jade, and woodcarvings. I especially like their inscribed bamboo items. One of them is even engraved with the full text of the Art of War both in Chinese and English!

 

What I appreciated

Shoushan stone seals, traditional handicrafts

 

What customers appreciate

Cutting name on seals on the spot, Chinese arts and crafts

 

Views
5621

Drinking tea is good for your health. Different kinds of tea have different tastes and medicinal functions. Near Beijing¡¯s famous Drum Tower, I found a tea shop where you can get almost every kind of tea you want. 

The tea shop is beautifully decorated with red Chinese knots, and gives a comfortable, warm feeling. To my surprise, the shop assistant speaks fluent English.

First she showed me some precious white tea called ¡°silver needle.¡± I noticed the tea leaves were covered with white hair, and they were shaped like a needle. Drinking this tea is helpful for diabetics, the owner said.

Another kind of tea she showed to me also has an interesting name: phoenix oolong tea. It grows on a mountain called Phoenix Mountain. Oolong tea is especially suitable for drinking in cold weather, as it has a deep, natural flavor, and is good for your stomach.

The tea shop also features a variety of tea sets. They are good quality and look beautiful. A set of bright red tea sets looks quite striking, and is said to have been favored by the emperors in ancient China.

Just before I was ready to leave, the warmhearted shop assistant brewed me a cup of oolong tea. Watching her skillfully prepare the tea with a whole set of tea tools, like a tea funnel, tea clip, tea brush, and tea spoon, I felt overjoyed that I found this lovely tea shop.

Well, if you come to this tea shop, you will have the same opportunity I did, so come taste any tea you like!

What I appreciate:

Tasty tea, good service

What customers appreciate:

Various kinds of quality tea, English-speaking shop assistant


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Beijing Shopping: Cloisonne is one of China's famous traditional handicrafts. It combines the art of porcelain and copper. Showing off an elegant cloisonne vase on your shelf will make your room more appealing and tast...