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9890

Cloisonne is one of China¡¯s famous traditional handicrafts. It combines the art of porcelain and copper. Showing off an elegant cloisonn¨¦ vase on your shelf will make your room more appealing and tasteful. Several days ago, I happened to visit a cloisonn¨¦ shop in southeast Beijing.

 

I was immediately attracted to a wide variety of colorful cloisonn¨¦ vases displayed on the shelves. Before long, the shop owner Mr. Nie came up to me and gave a brief introduction to his products.

 

Cloisonn¨¦ became very popular during the reign of Emperor Jingtai (1450 - 1456). At that time, artisans focused on blue, which is pronounced ¡®Lan¡¯ in Chinese. So the Chinese call it Jingtai Lan, after the emperor and the color.

 

In ancient China, cloisonn¨¦ was only used by the royal family. It could not be made in private workshops or sold in common marketplaces until the late Qing dynasty (1636 - 1912).

 

Mr. Nie said all of the items in his shop were made in his own factory.

 

When I asked him which one was the best seller, he passed me a blue and white cloisonn¨¦ vase. It felt very smooth. The pattern included blue flowers, clouds, and a big dragon.

 

Besides the large vases, this shop also has smaller items like jewelry.

 

What I appreciated

Superior workmanship, beautiful colors, cloisonn¨¦ vases

 

What customers appreciate

Traditional Chinese handicrafts, fine craftsmanship

Views
7672

Like oil paintings? When you¡¯re in Beijing, don¡¯t miss the city's largest art market. Recently I visited an oil painting shop on the first floor of this market.

 

The shop owner is Ms. Chen. She told me that all of her oil paintings were created by contemporary Chinese artists. They can be divided into two categories: classic Western-style oil paintings, and oil paintings that combine Western and Chinese styles. The themes include figures, still objects, and landscapes.

 

Looking around at the paintings hanging on the walls, my eyes finally stopped on one entitled ¡®Waves.¡¯ I love the sea, so this was the one that most appealed to me. The waves tumble with white froth, and seagulls are flying just above the sea. The picture looked so lifelike that I could almost smell the salt water and hear the sounds of the surf. The shop owner told me this work took ten days to finish.

 

I also liked their paintings depicting grazing horses, and a mountain spotted with snow, reflected in a peaceful lake.

 

What I appreciated

Lifelike oil paintings

 

What customers appreciate

Oil paintings combining Western and Chinese styles

Views
8821

There is a saying in ancient China: Even he who has a big sum of money cannot buy porcelain covered with gold leaves. Last week, however, I found a Jingdezhen porcelain shop where porcelain covered with gold leaves was on sale.

 

The shopkeeper Mr. Yu greeted me warmly. He told me he comes from Jingdezhen, the ¡®Capital of Porcelain.¡¯ The company he works at is the only manufacturer of porcelain with gold leaf patterns. To master the unique process, a number of skillful potters have been experimenting for over 14 years.

 

Then he showed me the most amazing item in the shop ¨C a red porcelain tea set covered with gold leaves. The golden pattern on the big teapot features a dragon and a phoenix. The whole set looked very gorgeous and luxurious.

 

And what is more, when you put a teacup under the spout, tea will start pouring automatically! As the water level nearly reaches the rim, the pouring stops. And if the tea is clear enough, you can see a beautiful girl¡¯s portrait appearing at the bottom of the cup.

 

Due to their exclusive techniques, each of their high-end porcelain items is different from any others. I must say they are very fit for any collection.

 

Apart from charming artistic porcelain, this shop also has a variety of bone china tableware on display, such as bowls, plates, and ashtrays. They are high quality but inexpensive. If you pick up two pieces and knock them together gently, a resonant and melodious sound will drift in the air.

 

What I appreciated

Unique Jingdezhen porcelain, top quality

 

What customers appreciate

Jingdezhen porcelain, superior workmanship

Views
6891

As a tea lover, you must know green tea, but most likely you know little about white tea. So last Saturday when I passed by a white tea shop on the Maliandao tea street, I decided to go in and check it out.

 

The shop owner Ms. Mei greeted me, and asked me to sit at a big tea table to taste their tea. While brewing, she gave me a brief introduction to her products.

 

The tea leaves here are picked at a large ecological tea plantation in southeast China¡¯s Fujian province. White tea is ranked as one of the 6 major types of Chinese tea. It is rich in amino acids and provitamin A. Drinking white tea often helps lower your blood viscosity, blood pressure, and blood sugar. If you drink a cup of white tea in the hot summer, you will be kept from heat stroke all day long.

 

With this, she handed me a glass of white tea called Baihao Yinzhen, or White Tipped Silver Needle in English. I saw straight tea leaves floating in the water. Some of them were slowly dropping to the bottom, but they still stayed upright.

 

The fragrance was not strong, but very agreeable. The apricot yellow color was quite clear. I took a sip, and the tea was soft and smooth in my mouth. After tasting it, I felt relaxed and refreshed both in body and in mind.

 

Apart from white tea, the shop also carries other kinds of Chinese tea like Pu¡¯er tea and Oolong tea.

 

What I appreciated

Unique white tea, healthy tea

 

What customers appreciate

Health-giving white tea, Chinese tea

Views
6948

If you like oil paintings, I bet you would like to visit a Chinese-style oil painting shop on your trip to Beijing. The shop is called Ju Qi Zhai, and it¡¯s located on Liulichang East Street.

 

When I entered the shop, the shop owner Mr. Huang received me warmly and gave me a brief self-introduction. He himself is an artist. He was brought up in a small, poor village. Though life was difficult there, he and his friends held out hope for a brighter future. So he set hope as the theme of most of his paintings.

 

He then brought me to one of his paintings. I was attracted by the Great Wall on it right away. Instead of a grey color, this Great Wall was red. And pretty soon I realized that the Great Wall was made of a team of boys. Above their heads there is a white dove flying in the sky.

 

The dove represents hope and peace that will fall upon children. The children, wearing red, symbolize a prosperous and powerful country.

 

Some other paintings show the traditional courtyards of old Beijing. As I was raised in Beijing, these pictures reminded me of my childhood memories. The traditional courtyards are shown exactly as they were: the grey bricks, a wooden gate posted with red couplets, and a pair of stone lions keeping guard at the door.

 

I have to admit that old Beijing really has a lingering charm.

 

The artist also focuses on painting Chinese ethnic minority girls. Each of them is wearing the colorful traditional dress of her minority group. Some of the charming girls are playing flutes or other instruments. Gazing at them attentively, I felt like I could hear the melodious sound.

 

What I appreciated

Oil paintings depicting ordinary life

 

What customers appreciate

Chinese-style oil paintings

Views
8135

The Miao are one of the most fascinating ethnic minorities in China. Recently, I found a Miao handicrafts shop on Yandai Xiejie. I was impressed by their silver ornaments and wax printing works.

 

The shop owner Mr. Zhang was dressed in the Miao traditional dress. He told me that Miao silver ornaments have a history of 400 years. The Miao have a variety of items that can brighten up your look from head to toe: silver headdresses, earrings, necklaces, bracelets, clothing accessories, waistbands, and anklets.

 

Miao girls are very partial to silver jewelry, as they see silver as a symbol of purity. And according to Miao customs, the larger, heavier, and more plentiful silver ornaments are considered the most beautiful.

 

Mr. Zhang showed me a pair of silver earrings. They feature long, beautiful twin birds. The silver threads are as thin as hair. Every detail is so fine.

 

The headdresses looked pretty heavy. I was afraid to wear any one of them, and it¡¯s not a good idea if you have a slender neck.

 

The blue cloth items with white patterns are actually wax printings. The patterns show beautiful flowers and Miao girls.

 

The cloth is made in a unique way: they draw an image on a piece of fabric with wax, and dip the fabric into a vat that contains dark blue dye. The parts of the fabric with wax cannot be dyed, so it will show off a gorgeous white pattern when the wax is removed.

 

At last, here¡¯s a tip to identify a real wax printing: Take a close look at a real wax painting work, you will find a number of fine, irregular blue crackles on the white area. They are caused when folding the wax-covered area, and the blue dye seizes the opportunity to permeate through the cracks.

 

What I appreciated

Unique arts and crafts of the Miao minority, the Miao silver jewelry

 

What customers appreciate

Exquisite silver ornaments, superb craftsmanship

Views
4435
Beijing pictures, Gu Ya Zhai

Like many other shops on the famous Liulichang St., Guyazhai is a curio shop selling various kinds of antique items, like porcelains, calligraphies, paintings, shadow puppets, snuff bottles, and kites.

The shop owner, Mr. Xu, showed me his collection of porcelain ware excitedly. Most of the items on the wooden shelf had a history of more than 100 years. He especially introduced the one made during Guangxu emperor regime. Because two parts can be rotated, the piece is rare and cost RMB 10000.

I was attracted by its large section of reverse painted tobacco bottles. Most of them are the crystal bottles made by modern artists. These exquisite bottles offer different themes, like spring lantern feast, ancient beauties, fairy tales, and landscapes. I like the cat one the most. If you check closely, you can even see the cat fur clearly painted inside the bottle. Price ranges from RMB 500 to RMB 2000 according to different shapes and skills.

Mr Xu told me the most popular items for foreign tourists are thin-silk kites and shadow puppets. The largest kite in the shop, featuring a light green fish design and made of thin silk, costs RMB 80.

What I Appreciate:
tobacco bottle

What Customer Appreciate:
large selection of curio

Views
4377

Given Beijing¡¯s numerous Buddhist items shops, sometimes it¡¯s hard to find the good ones. But I think a good choice is Ci En Dian in the Drum Tower area, both for its large selection and an owner who is a devout Buddhist.

 

The most noticeable items inside are their large Thangkas. The owner, Mr. Gao, told me that the master who made these thangkas is a descendant of Buddha¡¯s family. The works are incredibly detailed, and painstakingly painted with brush that only has a single hair at its tip. The colors were made with gold, jade, and turquoise. Very impressive! Prices are very high though, around RMB 150,000 each.

 

There are over 20 types of incense ¨C a staple of any Buddhist prayer ¨C inside, each for a different function. Prices range from RMB 50 to RMB 150.

 

CDs of Buddhist music, which calm and soothe the soul, cost RMB 15.

 

Mr. Gao keeps in his shop a precious Sarira, a sacred Buddha relic. It is only for display purposes though. He can also speak a little English to communicate with customers.

 

 

What I appreciate

Thangkas

 

What customers appreciate

Sarira, welcoming atmosphere, knowledgeable owner

Views
4579
Beijing pictures, Magic colors

As a way to pray for protection, Tibetans engrave scriptures or auspicious signs on slabs known as Marnyi stone. It is rare to see outside Tibet.

 

But one shop in Beijing offers this item. Residing in the Drum Tower area, the shop is called Wisdom Seeds. They offer all kinds of Marnyi stones. They vary in size, shape, as well as the engravings they bear. There are stones for protection, auspiciousness, good luck, fortune, to name a few.

 

I pick up a stone; the text on it is in Sanskrit and is tainted with various colors. Prices for range from RMB 30 to RMB 180.

 

The owner is a Tibetan Buddhism follower. During a pilgrimage to Tibet many years ago, he met a master engraver of Marnyi stone. He learned from the master for many days, and returned to Beijing to open a shop selling Marnyi stones. Now he is a well-known Marnyi stone engraver in Beijing.

 

He speaks a little English too, so communication shouldn¡¯t be a problem.

 

 

What I appreciate

Nice Marnyi stones

 

What customers appreciate

Nice Marnyi stones, welcoming atmosphere

Views
6502
Beijing pictures, Old Beijing Impression

Fans adorned with beautiful paintings and calligraphies have been popular among tourists and locals like. And that¡¯s what JingHua Fan House offers, beautiful hand-made fans.

 

This fan shop is located in the LiuLiChang Street, famous for its antiques and handcrafts. Inside JingHua, you¡¯ll find a large selection of hand-painted fans of all kinds: round, folding, and lady-style. In their studio, I watched as experienced painters painted on-the-spot themes such as landscapes, birds, flowers, and folk tales.

 

I picked up a folding fan. The front has a painting depicting a group of boys playing hide-and-seek. The back featured a Tang poem describing the scene. Wrapped beautifully inside a gift box, this particular folding fan sells around RMB 120.

 

The shop also offers other art. Their beautiful figurines include the legendary Monkey King known by all Chinese. Their paintings include landscapes and flowers.

 

Prices are reasonable, usually ranging from 100 to 200 RMB. The owner speaks a little English. Communication should not be a problem.

 

What I appreciate

Beautiful fans, quality service

 

What customers appreciate

Beautiful fans, reasonable prices


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Beijing Shopping: Cloisonne is one of China's famous traditional handicrafts. It combines the art of porcelain and copper. Showing off an elegant cloisonne vase on your shelf will make your room more appealing and tast...