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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


Yuanlong Silk Plaza, located near the north gate of the Temple of Heaven, is Asia¡¯s largest center for silk products. This five-story Plaza offers a great variety of choices of mostly items made from silk, such as silk embroidery, handmade carpets, tapestries, satins, and brocades.

The highlight of a visit to the plaza is the spacious Yuanlong Silk Museum, the first of its kind in a shopping center. The museum traces the history and the manufacturing process of silk over time. You can find, among others, carefully prepared illustrations of the famous Silk Road, as well as the crucial role played by mulberry and moths involved in silk creation. Stay and enjoy weaving demonstrations by experienced silk-makers. I saw first-hand how they make hand-made carpets.

Most products here are available at wholesale prices. If you bargain well, you can get items for much cheaper than any other retail shops around the city. Some stall owners speak basic English.You can also use pen & paper to bargain.

What I appreciate

Museum of silk history

What customers appreciate

A large selection of silk products at low prices


Located in the New Orient Plaza, Golden Scissors specializes in making embroidery scissors, dressmaking scissors, pinking shears and other specialty scissors used in traditional Chinese crafts.

After a walk around the shop, I realized that many of the scissors were also ornamental in addition to being practical. One example was the pair the shop owner showed me. It was Stork Embroidery Scissors (RMB 128), his favorite and one of the best-selling items in the shop. Purely handcrafted with gold-plated handles and a fitted leather sheath, it was definitely more exquisite than any scissor I've seen before. I would recommend it as a gift to someone who would use them in making handcrafts.

The prices for the scissors there range from RMB 5 to RMB 800, depending on the types of material and detail in design. The shop owner does not speak English, but you can examine  their entire selection on display.

What I appreciate

Stork Embroidery Scissors

What customers appreciate

high quality scissors and great craftsmanship


Zhiyixuan Paper-cut Art Shop specializes in making and selling paper-cut figures, handmade cloth patterns, Chinese woven patterns, and cloisonn¨¦.


The major feature of the shop is the large variety of Chinese paper-cut items it carries. Prices of the mounted paper-cut figures range from RMB 60 to RMB 880. The unmounted versions cost RMB 1 to RMB 300. Prices of small handmade cloth items, such as little tigers, range from RMB 5 to RMB 120. The woven patterns cost RMB 5 to RMB 20.


What I appreciated

Numerous paper-cut items and traditional Chinese handicrafts on sale.

Beijing pictures, Hairy Monkey

Folk artwork is an important part of Chinese culture. Twenty to thirty years ago, it was a time of great prosperity for folk art. Folk artisans once carried their loads to some busy commercial streets, made artworks on the spot and peddled them. But now, since this career can only make a little money, the number of folk artisans are becoming less and less. Folk artisans are threatened to become an endangered species.  I found a shop in Beijing, however, which collects all kinds of folk artworks. The owner himself is a folk artisan. He has dedicated himself to carrying forward Chinese art, and imparts his knowledge freely to his patrons. I saw here the promise of a revival for our folk art.

Hair Monkeys
As I was strolling along a quiet Hutong street, a shop drew my attention. At the entrance gate, a young man sitting at a table was making something interesting. I recognized a hair monkey, one of traditional Beijing folk artworks.

Hair monkeys are monkey figurines. They are usually as big as a thumb. Their heads and four limbs are made of cicada shell, and their bodies of flower buds.

Hair monkeys have abundant brows and motion. Their postures mimicry human beings¡¯ behaviours. Every work has a particular theme, and reflects a particular custom. For instance, two monkeys kneeled and kowtowed to each other. One of them wears a red coif. This shows the Chinese wedding ceremony. I noted another group of three monkeys. One big monkey wes picking a bunch of firecrackers. Another big monkey was lighting it. The last small monkey was crouching far away, covering his ears with his hands. This is representation of how Chinese customarily celebrate the New Year.
All the monkeys were very lively.
A Quest for Collecting
I could not but admire the artisan, Mr.Lin. Mr.Lin¡¯s father was himself an artisan who had dedicated his life to folk art. So his son was exposed to all kinds of folk artwork from his childhood. Clever with his hands, he could do all sorts of handicraft.

He once toiled as a senior worker in a handicraft factory. When the factory want bankrupt, Mr. Lin opened his own special shop with the hope of collecting here the entire spectrum of folk artwork.

Mr. Lin knows too well the life of folk artisans. They are very talented in their art, but their margins are so slim, they don¡¯t have money to operate a shop to sell their products. The life of a pure folk artisan is a very hard one.

Do It Yourself
The shop gathers over twenty categories of typical folk handicrafts.

Mr. Lin makes some himself: hair monkeys; bean paintings (using beans of different sizes to create various kinds of animal and human beings. Every painting tells an interesting story); opera facial make-ups; thin silk figurines (Chinese ancient belle: using wire as a framework, thin silk fabric for clothes, and silk for hair. Every part of her body can be freely reshaped).

If you wanted to make your own work, Mr. Lin would be very happy to impart his knowledge on you. Wouldn¡¯t such DIY works make great gifts?!

Other Folk Artworks
Other precious works come from Mr.Lin¡¯s friends, also folk artisans themselves. For instance, small embroidery shoes (three inch long shoes, with beautiful embroidery patterns, the kind of which were once worn by women); dough figurines, clay figurines (a speciality of the Shanxi province); lacquered painting on a cucurbit; paintings on eggs and on ceramic tiles; leather silhouettes, etc.

Nearly all the most typical folk artworks of Northern China can be found here.

This shop is a treasure. Beijing¡¯s folk customs are represented in the vivid artworks. This makes for a strong culture atmosphere,  and lively art.

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Beijing Shopping: 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 artis...