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1312

Recently an artist who is good at sculpture, painting and calligraphy really impressed me. His shop is located at the famous ancient Chinese cultural street. You can find some decorations there that will bring a mysterious, oriental feel to your house.

 

Once I entered the studio, I found myself breathing a densely artistic air. So many things to see! Clay sculptures on the tables, paintings and calligraphy works on the walls¡­ To my surprise, all of them were created by the shopkeeper, Mr. Wang Hongxiang.

 

In the course of a short conversation, I learnt Mr. Wang was from a farmer¡¯s family. He became addicted to art when he was a child. His mother spent all her salary in supporting him to learn his craft. After many years of effort, Mr. Wang became an accomplished artist.

 

He showed me a clay sculpture ¨C a Buddha. The lifelike Buddha looked very attractive. Mr. Wang explained, ¡°I am a Buddhist. This sculpture won¡¯t crack anytime soon, for I created a unique way to make it.¡±

 

Then he showed me a sketch ¨C the face of an old village woman. The face was tanned and covered with a great many wrinkles, but her eyes were still shining with hope. I was touched by the sight.

 

Despite all his achievements, Mr. Wang remains humble. In his own reckoning, he will never cease to seek for perfection.

 

What I appreciated:

Clay sculptures, paintings, calligraphy

 

What customers appreciate:

Clay sculptures, paintings, calligraphy

Views
1758

If you visit a friend¡¯s home for the first time and see a Chinese painting hanging on the wall, you can conclude that the host must be a learned, tasteful person. The reasons are: First, admiring a Chinese painting is a spiritual enjoyment that can cultivate your taste. Second, buying a famous artist¡¯s work is a wise investment.

 

Last week I visited a famous ancient cultural street in Beijing, and found an outstanding gallery called ¡®Ancient Temple¡¯. The shop keeper Mr. Jia had been painting for more than forty years. Some of his works are kept in the Great Hall of the People, and the Palace Museum.

 

Mr. Jia is a humble, sincere artist. He told me he was especially good at drawing peaches and pomegranates. Peaches symbolize longevity, so Chinese people often send peaches to elders as birthday presents. Pomegranates represent big and happy families full of children, because, when ripe, they will grow a great many seeds inside. Gazing at his prominent works of peaches and pomegranates, I gasped in admiration.

 

Mr. Jia also loves drawing landscapes and plum blossoms. Looking at a painting featuring mountains, streams, and a pavilion, I felt like entering a wonderland. Another one showed red plum flowers against a white snow background. Chinese people especially love plum flowers which are so proud that they choose to blossom in the coldest moment.

 

In the shop, if you are lucky enough, you might catch sight of Mr. Jia painting on the spot. Surely you will be impressed by his profound and proficient painting skills.

 

What I appreciated:

Senior artist, outstanding Chinese paintings

 

What costumers appreciate:

Intriguing Chinese paintings

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3057

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

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3351

Known as the "health-giving tea" and "beauty-slimming tea" in China, Puer tea is something you won't regret trying out. This famous tea from the Yunnan province of southern China gives you both taste and health benefits.

 

For tea-loving tourists, the large Yunnan Pu'er Tea Market offers convenient location near the Tian'anmen Square. It is here on the second floor where I found Leyuanyu Pu'er Tea Shop.

 

The shopkeeper, Mr. Wang, warmly invited me to sit down and sample their fermented and unfermented teas. Decorated with unique items from the hometown of Pu¡¯er tea, Leyuanyu provided me a great tea-tasting experience. The stone elephants, wooden decorations, and green plants soon led me into a relax state. Fermented tea looks red, and tastes kinda sweet. Unfermented tea looks like amber. They taste somewhat bitter at first, but give a sweet after-taste.

 

Mr. Wang said all their Pu'er tea comes from naturally grown trees without any human interference. They offer two famous brands: "National Chinese" and "Image of Washan Mountain". The former has won many prizes in Pu'er tea competitions.

 

Looking around, I found a wide variety of compressed Pu¡¯er tea on display. The compressed nature makes them easy to carry. Some even come in nice small packages fit for presents or souvenirs. Prices are reasonable. One particular 250g "Tea Horse Ancient Road Pu¡¯er Brick Tea" cost only RMB 50, for instance.

 

What I appreciated

Quality Pu'er tea, a wide variety to choose from

 

What customers appreciate

Prize-winning Pu'er tea, natural and health-giving tea

Views
3997

Huo Shu Tang: a snapshot of China¡¯s finest handicrafts

 

As the Chinese place much emphasis on meanings behind objects, one of the best ways to discover China is to know Chinese handicrafts. Handicrafts are like kaleidoscopes, through which you can see the richness of Chinese culture.

 

Huo Shu Tang, though a small shop, offers more than 100 types of ethnic handicrafts from all over China, most of which are rarely seen. Items here include cloth works, batiks, bean arrangements, clay figurines, paper-cuts, shadow puppets, and embroideries. All of them are made by highly skilled craftsmen.

 

I found myself amused by a clay work of a thumb (RMB 300), which featured a tiny frog at the tip. It turned out to be a prize-winning work in the shop, and it means ¡°approval and appreciation¡±. I also appreciated a cute bean arrangement work named ¡°Countryside Chophouse¡± (RMB 280), which used beans in various sizes, shapes and colors to feature people, animals, and other objects.

 

Prices vary quite a bit. For example, a cloth tiger costs RMB 30, while a fine piece of jade engraving costs several thousand RMBs.

 

The shop owner is an interesting person who speaks a little English.

 

 

What I appreciate

A wide variety of handicrafts, the bean arrangement works

 

What customers appreciate

Exquisite Chinese handicrafts, quality service

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2354
Beijing pictures, Bowl

When you¡¯re having guests over for dinner, it¡¯s always nice to use some fine dinnerware. And ¡°Between Earth and Sky¡±, located inside Hongqiao market in south Beijing, offers some strange ideas.

 

The shop carries a nice collection of dishware with very unique designs. First, the shapes are not your typical round ones. They may resemble leaves, little boats,  and other things. In fact, the shopkeeper Ms. Liu told me the shape is anything that comes to the designers¡¯ mind.

 

Black, white, and Purple-red glazes are applied to each piece, giving them distinctive shines. Chinese calligraphy engraved adds a sense of culture. I have personally never seen anything like this before.

 

In addition to dinnerware, the shop also offers a variety of tea sets and cups.

 

Prices range from RMB 30 to RMB 3,000. Ms. Liu speaks fluent English for easy communication.

 

 

What I appreciate

A plate engraved with a Tang emperor poem

 

What customers appreciate

Nice dishware, quality service

Views
3407
Beijing pictures, Dragons

The art of straw-weaving, which has been seen on potteries as early as 6000 years ago, is considered an essential element of Chinese culture.

 

Straw-weaving Workshop, nested in the southern part of downtown Beijing, offers this special form of art. Here you¡¯ll find straws weaved into different animals, such as birds, beasts, and insects. They all looked amazingly lovely and lifelike.

 

Although I don¡¯t really like snakes, I couldn¡¯t help but admire the piece on it, which looked very detailed. A pair of cranes also caught my attention, because of how hard it was to create their slim bodies and lively postures.,

 

When I asked the shop manager, Ms. Chen, what are the popular items, she showed me a straw-weaving of a large dragon. This made sense, as the dragon is considered the most power animal in Chinese legends.

 

The workshop makes all items themselves. Their master is very renowned, and has won numerous handicraft awards.

 

Prices here range from RMB 20 for a cicada to RMB300 for a dragon. Ms. Chen speaks a little English. No need to worry about a communicating.

 

 

What I appreciate

Beautiful straw weavings of crane and dragon

 

What customers appreciate

Dragon weavings, quality service

Views
4209
Beijing pictures, Chunny Ceramics Shop

A small porcelain shop recently opened on the north side of Di¡¯anmen Dongdajie. It¡¯s easily recognizable, with its white signboard which shows the shop name ¡°Chunny Ceramics¡±. Their catchphrase, written in Chinese characters, was ¡°We produce practical works of art¡±. I went inside to check it out.

 

The wooden shelves show various uniquely shaped ceramics, including sculptures, vessels, home decorations, tea sets, wall decorations, and necklaces. The shopkeeper, Mr. Li, told me that all of their products are designed by professional artisans in Jingdezhen, the famous ceramics capital of China.

 

He also said that each item is uniquely handmade. If you buy one cup, you can be sure that there¡¯s no other cup in the world like it. To check, I looked at their ceramics one by one carefully, and found that each one really did look different from others.

 

The cups I picked up had irregular small pits on the surface, but my fingers fit around the pits comfortably. That¡¯s when I realized that this cup was designed this way.

 

One cup usually costs RMB 10 - 20. Note that nearly each cup bears their registered brand name ¡°Chun Ni¡±, which means ¡°Spring Soil¡± in English.

 

They also accept customer requests. If you have a particular idea in mind, they can design and make a custom ceramic work in about 20 days. Two assistants who can speak some English ensure smooth communication.

 

What I appreciated

Original design, one piece one style

 

What customers appreciate

Distinct ceramics, good for gift and souvenir

Views
3291
Beijing pictures, Front gate of Jinyi Paper-cut Shop

Paper-cuttings are pictures cut from paper, using scissors or blades. It has been around in China for about two thousand years. People generally paste these patterns on windows, lanterns, or doors to express the feelings of joy and life values. They look both beautiful and interesting, and are widely popular among Chinese.

 

On the north side of Di¡¯anmen East Street, a paper-cutting shop recently opened. Its name, Jinyi, means ¡®Golden Art¡¯ in English.

 

When I stepped into the shop yesterday afternoon, the shopkeeper Mr. Zhao greeted me at once. He hails from Yuxian, a county near Beijing nicknamed ¡®the village of paper-cuttings¡¯. Mr. Zhao¡¯s grandpa started making paper-cuttings, and now Mr. Zhao is the third generation in the family business.

 

He told me that a single paper-cutting usually features just one color, but can be layered to have a variety of patterns. Take the piece that depicted cows grazing on grass, for instance. You can see four colors, one on top of another: yellow, brown, green and black. This elaborate work, which cost 480 yuan, required four times the work of a single piece.

 

They also have small items ideal for gifts or souvenirs, like a set of 12 Chinese zodiac animals which opens up like a pamphlet (RMB 10). A finely-cut miniature Emperor¡¯s robe cost only RMB 3. They even have paper portraits of Einstein and Mona Lisa.

 

Mr. Zhao added that there will be an artisan making paper-cuttings on spot every day. Customers can learn the basics of the art free of charge. They also take custom orders.

 

What I appreciated

Folk handicraft, elaborate paper-cut works

 

What customers appreciate

Traditional works of art by hand, superb workmanship

Views
5134
Beijing pictures, himalayan artwork shop

Himalayan, a land full of mystery and long history, captures the souls of many people who have ever or never been there. So I was thrilled to find a shop in Beijing offering handicrafts from that mysterious region.

You can easily spot the shop, Himalayan Artwork, in the Drum Tower area by its colorful flags hanging outside.

Mr Yang, the owner, introduced me to a collection of Tibetan products: prayer wheel for blessings, painted or embroidered Buddhist banner ¨CThangka, incense burner, and colorful folk costumes.

If you want to soothe your soul, I recommend this Tibetan singing bowl. It is a type of bell used for prayers and meditation. Each bowl comes with a wooden stick for you to use.

The shop carries singing bowls featuring various paintings, carvings, and Buddhist signs around its edge. In addition, you can use it as a music instrument for events like yoga classes. Prices are relatively cheap. Tens or hundreds of yuans for the most part. You can bargain with Mr Yang. But since he can't speak English, be sure to take a pen and paper with you.

What I Appreciate:

Ethnic flavor

What Customers Appreciate:

Beautiful products, quality service


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Beijing Shopping: Recently an artist who is good at sculpture, painting and calligraphy really impressed me. His shop is located at the famous ancient Chinese cultural street. You can find some decorations there that w...