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Have you ever heard of iron painting? It¡¯s handmade with iron and a hammer instead of paint and a brush. The art originated more than 300 years ago with a blacksmith in central China. This unique artwork is a good option for ornaments and presents.


There is an iron painting shop in southeast Beijing. I visited them recently.


As soon as I entered the shop, I was fascinated by their work. Most are vivid patterns outlined by black iron stripes. Some of them even have colors, like red plum blossoms.


The shopkeeper Mr. Lu introduced to me a work called ¡°The Guest-greeting Pine.¡± This old tree is a symbol of Mt. Huang, the most beautiful mountain in China. The lifelike pattern is a miniature reproduction. The original artwork is huge and was created by a famous artist. It is now in the Great Hall of the People at Tiananmen Square.


They also sell small framed iron paintings such as pandas, landscapes, birds, and flowers, which are easily carried anywhere.


What I appreciated

Unique iron painting, outstanding workmanship


What customers appreciate

Authentic Chinese handicrafts, good for decorations and gifts


If you are a foreign traveler in Beijing, your trip is hardly complete if you miss the ancient culture street. Last week I went there again and was impressed by a handicraft shop named ¡®Gu Ya Zhai.¡¯ The diversity of their folk arts and crafts will make it easy to find something interesting, such as presents or souvenirs.


As soon as I entered the shop, I found my eyes darting around everywhere, amazed to see so many unique handicrafts. A large variety of porcelain vases, plates and bowls were displayed on antique wooden shelves. Among them, the plain white vases with blue patterns looked more elegant than the colorful ones.


The shopkeeper Mr. Xu greeted me, and told me the most popular items here are the shadow puppets hanging on the wall. They are made of either donkey skin or cow skin. I tried to manipulate one. All of its joints were moveable and flexible. It was very funny!


The small snuff bottles looked so delicate. The caps are made of agate, while the bottles are made of crystal. Fine patterns like landscapes, flowers and birds were painted on the inner walls of the bottles. I still wonder how Chinese craftsmen can do such a wonderful thing.


A pink, vivid kite in the shape of a goldfish also caught my eye. Its big eyes rotate when the wind blows.


The shop also carries Chinese paintings and calligraphy works, jade jewelry, and small, ancient shoes for women¡­ The prices are quite reasonable.


What I appreciated

Folk arts and crafts, fine workmanship


What customers appreciate

Traditional Chinese handicrafts, reasonable prices


Recently I paid a visit to Liulichang Street, which is also known as ¡°Ancient Culture Street.¡± A sign outside a shop that read ¡®Old Beijing Paper-cut¡¯ lured me in.


The house turned out to be full of fine, amazing paper patterns cut with scissors. They depicted ancient Chinese generals and beautiful women, Peking opera characters and facial masks, Chinese zodiac animals, and so on. I even found some images of Western celebrities.


The shopkeeper Ms. He was a middle-aged woman. She told me that all of the works here were handmade at the shop. She even showed me how to cut a pattern with ordinary scissors. Her hands are so skillful!


She showed me one of their most popular works: Twelve red carp are facing the Chinese character ¡®Fu,¡¯ which means ¡®Blessing.¡¯ The character is upside down, which means that the blessing is coming. The twelve fish represent the twelve months of the year.


Each of the paper-cut items shows great workmanship. They are easy to carry home and you can put them on your windows and doors. Chinese people believe this will bring good luck. Paper-cuts are also excellent souvenirs or presents.


What I appreciated

Local traditional handicraft, fine workmanship


What customers appreciate

Unique handicraft, remarkable workmanship


On my visit to the fifth floor of Bairong World Trade Center, a shop full of decorations reflecting rural people and the old Beijing image caught my eye. I didn't hesitate to step in.


A shop assistant greeted me and told me that this was the wholesale department of Xiangrong Art Studio. This venue features two rooms - one for pottery decorations, the other for paintings. All the works here are made by folk artists.


I liked their decorations, for they reminded me of the old Beijing. Some of their displays are miniature gates of the old Beijing courtyards. I spent my childhood in a traditional courtyard not far from Tian¡¯anmen Square, so these miniature gates really brought back old memories. The grey bricks, the wooden gates, the gate piers, even the patches of moss, are all reminiscent of my old life long gone now. Miniature courtyard gates were priced at RMB 150 or 180.


A miniature village courtyard looked lovely too. The enclosure was built of stones, and on the front wall of the cottage hung strings of golden maize and red peppers. The villagers, made of pottery, looked quite happy in their simple clothes.


Each of their items is original and unique, so I bet you will not regret taking a visit to this outlet.


What I appreciated

Folk art, original design


What customers appreciate

The old Beijing style, and rural style


The Chinese folk art dough figurine, or Mian Ren in Chinese, are tiny figures made of wheat flour, glutinous rice flour, bee honey, and glycerin. Unfortunately, there are very few dough figurine artists today, so it was very exciting to find so many cute and exquisite dough figurines on the second floor of Baigong Handicrafts Museum.


There is a large selection of dough figurines in the shop. Each figure, setting foot on a small wooden pedestal, is kept in a glass box.


I was enthralled by the figurine featuring two kids in traditional clothing watching cricket fight (RMB 260). Another one I like was the God of Longevity, with his bright smile, long and white beard, and a yellow robe. He holds a peach in one hand, and a long crutch in the other. This figurine cost 180 yuan.


The elderly female shop assistant told me that most of these handicrafts are made by Mr. You, a dough figurine master. His works have a prominent feature in that every figure has a vivid facial expression. She also noted that a dough figurine should be kept from sunshine. In this way, the colors of the dough figurines will not fade for at least 20 years.


What I appreciated

Elaborate dough figurines, traditional Chinese folk art


What customers appreciate

Traditional Chinese folk art, distinguished workmanship

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Beijing Shopping: Have you ever heard of iron painting? It's handmade with iron and a hammer instead of paint and a brush. The art originated more than 300 years ago with a blacksmith in central China. This unique artw...