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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

Beijing pictures, Shadow Play

Shadow theaters in China originated from Shanxi province 1600 years ago. Through the use of shadow puppets, Shanxi puppeteers have since put on exquisite shows through the use of light and shadows.


This 100-year-old JiGuGe in LiuLiChang, Xuanwu District sells beautiful shadow puppets made from Shanxi. The puppets mainly depict historical figures and legendary animals. A crafter had to go through a dozen of steps over at least several days to make each puppet on display, according to the shop owner.


I took a look at a finely-crafted puppet of an ancient general. The puppet looked incredibly intricate, with many matching accessories. The owner said that particular puppet took weeks to make due to its complexity.


All the puppets in the shop seemed lively and quite unique. They make good souvenirs even if you¡¯re not planning on putting on a production. Prices started at RMB 90, and included a free frame for each puppet you purchase.



What I appreciate

Lovely shadow puppets


What customers appreciate

Wide range of choices, detailed designs, reasonable prices


Chinese Folkarts Shop specializes in folk handicrafts, such as paper cuts, embroidered shoes, kites, facial make-ups of the Beijing Operas, dough figurines, silk figurines, folk jewelry, Chinese calligraphy and paintings, chopsticks, etc. Among their exclusive merchandise, the shop carries pottery items like Buddhas and unicorns, and shadow puppets.


The shop plays classical Chinese music to attract customers¡¯ attention. Foreign visitors account for 70-80% of their customers.


On a picturesque note, a white cat with yellow eyes was wandering in the shop at the time of my visit. The shop owner told me the cat was a stray, until a shop assistant took her in and the cat refused to leave ever since. Many foreign visitors like to hold the cat in arms and have pictures taken.


What customers appreciate:

Classical Chinese music, variety of folk handicrafts, reasonable prices.

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Beijing Shopping: Huo Shu Tang offers over 100 types of handicrafts from deep China.