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798 Art Zone holds lots of avant-garde and trendy studios and shops, like Hong Dian Xuan. Here you'll find traditional pots and vases made from simple threads.

The owner of Hong Dian Xuan used to be a collector of antiques. As a lover of old Chinese art and culture, he created this very special weaving technique. He would use one or two continuous strand of either cotton or hemp, and weave them into large pots and vases. Usually it takes three weeks to accomplish one piece. The more strands involved, the more complicated it is.

One fabric weaved with blue and golden strings attracted my attention. It looked like a bronze item produced thousands of years ago. The owner said he wanted to introduce the art of ancient Chinese bronze, pottery and porcelain in his own way.

Not everything is realistic though. There are also potteries carved with funny facial expressions.

Even though the pots and vases are made of fabrics, they can stand firmly on the table.

What I appreciate:
Unique weave technique

What customers appreciate:
Fabric pots with full elements of ancient Chinese culture

Beijing pictures, Indian guy with matches

On my recent visit to Yandai Xiejie, the oldest, famous lane in Beijing, I found a number of antique or handicraft shops. But to my surprise, I also discovered a match shop. Nowadays, we use electronic lighters instead of matches any more. So what can a match shop offer? To find out the secret, I decided to check it out.


The small shop is named ¡°Match Quotes¡±. A huge match is keeping guard in front of the shop. As soon as I got into it, I immediately realized that this is a unique, magic world of matches.


The shop owner, Mr. Huang, greeted me, and drew my eyes away from the wide variety of matches. He told me that last year he saw a box of foreign matches, and was deeply attracted by the pattern on it. Suddenly, an idea struck him. He could also design his own match boxes, and add in some traditional Chinese elements. With a degree in Art, he felt confident with his designs. So He carried out his plan and became successful today.


His works consists of mainly three categories: modern designs, historical patterns, and graffiti. Youngsters usually go for the stars like David Beckham. For overseas tourists and collectors, there are Peking opera facial masks, and the red booklets with quotes from Chairman Mao. Actually, his original match boxes have become works of art for collection. When you visit this shop, I¡¯m sure you will find the one appealing to you.


What I appreciated

Original designs, catering to your interests


What customers appreciate

Unique designs with traditional Chinese characteristics

Beijing pictures, the art of fire

As the oldest slanted lane in Beijing, Yandai Xiejie still retains its traditional style, and attracts a number of domestic and overseas travelers every day. On my visit there recently, I found a unique small shop called "Feng Nian Tao Fang", which features homemade pottery. In Chinese, "Feng Nian" means "a good harvest year", and "Tao Fang" means "a studio making pottery"


The shop keeper, Mr. Liu, was easy to talk with. My new friend introduced that he started learning to draw ten years ago, hoping to become an artist.


Eight years later, that dream came true when he made up his mind, came to Beijing, and opened this shop with his beloved wife. Since then, he has been designing and crafting earthenware himself, which you can find all over the shop. His original, exclusive works reflect his powerful and unbridled imagination.


One of his favorite works depicts a beaming man in thick clothes and hat, making a bow with hands folded in front. This is a common gesture to congratulate someone in the Chinese culture. Around his neck hangs a copper coin. It is entitled "Congratulations for Getting Rich".


I also discovered a lot of colorful plates and figurines with fish designs on walls. Mr. Liu told me that thousands of years ago, our ancestors regarded fish as a totem. Therefore, they are used for praying for continued prosperity.


The shop also carries various Peking opera facial masks, and exquisite vases in different sizes and colors. Mr. Liu can speak some English for communication.


What I appreciated

Homemade pottery, traditional Chinese culture


What customers appreciate

Original designs, delicate handicrafts


As the best of the four major carving stones in China, the Shoushan stone boasts over 100 sub-types.  Among which the best is the Tianhuang stone, the material used for making Emperor seals throughout ancient China.

Fu Lin Ge, a shop in Dong Fang Gu Yuan Art Market, makes beautiful Shoushan stone carvings. All of them are incredibly elaborate in design. One particular item, depicting the famous general Guan Yu of the 3 Kingdoms era, is most conspicuous. You can see clearly each intricate detail on the body.

An interesting design there was a white carving of an old man with a child with a funny red face. It has an interesting name "Hong Yun Dang Tou", which both describes the scene and means "Good luck is coming". I thought it was a cute play on words.

Because of the precious Shoushan Stone, prices of the stone carvings in the shop are quite high. Each one costs several thousand yuan.

What I appreciate:
Precious stone carvings, fine workmanship

What customers appreciate:
Beautiful stone carvings, fine details

Beijing pictures, Straw Sandals

Pu¡¯er tea is distinctive for the mild climate where it grows. It has gathered a popular following with its lightly sweet taste and for its noted ability to lower blood pressure and sugar.


ZhengYun ChaShe, a shop in the Drum Tower area, offers Pu¡¯er tea as well as ethnic handcraft from Yunnan Province, where the tea is grown. The owner, Mr. Yao, has been in Pu¡¯er tea business for 5 years. And inside the shop, he set a tea table to offer free samples to those interested. Prices range from RMB 150 to RMB 800 per gram, depending on the age of the tea.


Also, there are ethnic items. Mr. Yao showed me a pair of straw sandal, usually worn in the mountain regions of southern China. It is made of bamboo root, and help avoid slipping while treading on the steep mountain paths. A pair sells around RMB 100. For ladies, he recommended traditional Yi ethnicity cloth-sole shoes, beautifully embroidered, and 100% hand-made. Yi ethnic women often wear these shoes for various occasions. A pair sells around RMB 150.


Mr. Yao and his assistants speak a little English. So communication is not a problem.


What I appreciate

Bamboo sandals


What customers appreciate

Tea and souvenirs

The technique of glazed color has over 2000 years of history. In ancient China, precious glazed products were considered mysterious and could bring people luck. And usually only emperors and the royal families had them.

Bai Yi De Kun, a shop in Bai Gong Fang Handicraft Museum features various colored glaze articles all made by hand. Inside, I found vases, necklaces, bracelets, and other accessories. Each one was a great wonder. I was amazed at the fabulous colors, which looked like colorful liquid flowing inside a translucent body.

The owner told me that producing each piece was very complicated.  It needed to be smelted by raging fire at 1400 degrees. And then put through 50 steps during production. The different colors results from the use of different metal elements. For example, cobalt produces green, while gold produces red.

I especially liked one red colored glaze item where nine dragons played with a ball. Another one called the ¡°Sun Rising From the Sea¡± was also appealing.

Prices varied from RMB 100 to RMB 20,000 depending on the different styles and sizes.

What I appreciate:
Its beauty

What customers appreciate:
Unique art


On the second floor of Dong Fang Gu Yuan Art Market, Ren He Rong Yi offers many types of wooden carvings.

I was initially attracted by its lamps, which were covered with wooden decorations. I liked it as this is not just art, but also useful. The solid wood was inlaid with strips of copper, silver, or silk. Traditional Chinese paintings nicely decorated the lamps.

When I talked to the owner of Ren He Rong Yi, Mr. Xu, I was surprised to find out that he designed all products in the shop. He told me that he owned a small manufactory where everything is made. And he also uses this shop as a studio for him to paint and design.

Beside lamps, Ren He Rong Yi also offers wood-carvings, jade-caving, and stone paintings. Mr. Xu told me that because everything is made in-house, he can accept personal orders. If you would like a custom designed carving, he¡¯d be happy to oblige.

Most handicrafts are priced between RMB 400 to RMB 800. Some of the bigger items can reach RMB 1800 though.

What I appreciate:
Fine workmanship

What customers appreciate:
Handcrafts depicting the old Chinese culture


For those of you unfamiliar with snuff, they are finely grounded tobaccos, and used as herbal medicines when smelled. In ancient times, they were quite popular in China, and snuff bottles became a work field of art. Even today, traditional Chinese paintings inside enjoy popularity home and abroad.

And I was glad to personally visit Liu Shouben, one of the 36 best artists specializing in snuff bottle paintings. His studio is located in Bai Gong Fang, also known as the Handicraft Museum.

The snuff bottle paintings inside are works by Mr. Liu and his students. As Mr. Liu focus on local flavors, he typically depicts the local life and landscapes of Beijing. His works are characterized by their delicate color, which brings out the spirit of the city.

I took special notice to the paintbrush. It is in fact just a hair stuck to a piece of thin bamboo. The reason for this is because the paintings need to be painted inside the bottle, in a reverse manner. This way, it will show up beautifully through the transparent bottles.

A snuff bottle painting can last hundreds of years without any change in color, and can be treasured for generations. Prices of items in the studio range from RMB 10,000 to RMB 30,000

What I appreciate:
Superb painting skills

What customers appreciate:
Miniature bottles easily to be kept


Walking along the Tobacco Pipe Street in the Hou Hai area, I found a small shop called Wen Feng Tang, which had many unique T-shirts, handbags, paper-cuts, porcelains, and more.

Inside, the shop owner, Mr. Liu, greeted me. He told me that he opened this shop to showcase all his artisan friends. So all items inside are made by him and his friends, and are unique even in Beijing.

The porcelains of mostly blue hue are the highlights of the shop. Each of them is different in design. Those colorful ornaments are painted with different totems and made of wood. Some of them are in the shape of rockets, while the others look like gourds.

As an artist himself, Mr. Liu designed the T-shirts hung on the walls. They feature sketches of soldiers, workers and farmers together, reminiscent of 1950's- 1970's China, when the new People¡¯s Republic just formed.

In addition, I found little accessories in the shape of vivid animals displayed on the shelves. And the inner room held a collection of the paper cuts.

The owner is proud of his every item here, as each one is unique. You can't find the same one in any other shops in Beijing. Prices range from RMB 20 to RMB 300, reasonable for souvenirs or small gifts.

What I appreciate:
Items in individual styles

What customers appreciate:
Nostalgic items with reasonable prices


Opposite of Temple of Heaven¡¯s east gate, you can see many shops selling traditional handicrafts in the Hongqiao Market. One stall, called Dajing Pottery caught my attention, as it had such beautiful potteries displayed on the shelves.

At first glance, I thought the items were wood-carvings, as the designs were so vivid. Each piece of pottery, made in the Henan Province, had its own unique design. The owner of this stall told me that they only sell their own brand of Dajing pottery, renowned for its completely hand wrought process. It combines the art of modeling, painting and carving together. Then it¡¯s fired at 1300 degrees Celsius, so pottery can last long time without any change in the pattern or color.

I especially like the one pottery which depicted a city bustling with people walking on the bridge. The design is based on a famous painting call the Scroll of Pure Brightness Festival on the River.

Prices of potteries range from RMB 200 to RMB 1000.

Besides pottery, the stall also offers some other handicrafts like fans, chopsticks, wood carvings, and bronze carvings.

What I appreciate:
Completely hand-made potteries with fine workmanship

What customers appreciate:
Unique patterns on the potteries, wide choices of styles

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Beijing Shopping: 798 Art Zone holds lots of avant-garde and trendy studios and shops, like Hong Dian Xuan. Here you'll find traditional pots and vases made from simple threads.