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Beijing pictures, Sofa Cushion

Yu Hai Ying Zhou is an excellent shop for fans of Chinese ethnic products. Located behind the Palace museum of the Forbidden City, it carries a wide selection of deep Chinese ethnic handicrafts and accessories.


Most accessories, like sofa cushions, tea sets, tablecloths, Chinese knots, and china vases, make for wonderful interior decoration. While the handicrafts cover a wide variety of items from silk handbags to Shanxi shadow puppets.


I found the shop assistants, who speak a little English, easy to engage. They recommended, among other things, the shadow puppets coming from Shannxi, the home province of leather-silhouette show. This ancient art uses puppets made of donkey or ox leather to create shadows on a piece of white cloth, with performers behind the scene controlling the action. The puppets can be surprisingly detailed, such as a framed ¡®General¡¯ Puppet on display (RMB 120).


Two items I personally liked were an embroidered silk pillow(RMB 65) and a silk handbag (RMB 60). The pillow felt very soft, and had a dedicate fragrance. The silk handbag looked beautiful and would make a great gift.



What I appreciate

Embroidered fragrant pillow, handbag


What customers appreciate

Wide selection of Chinese ethnic products, reasonable prices

Beijing pictures, Suo Yi hat

A gift shop hidden behind the Forbidden City, Hua Fu Yi Yuan offers amazing Chinese ethnic products. This Wusi St. shop carries a wide range of handicrafts of Yi Ethnic group in southwestern China. Selections include Suo Yi rainwear, silver bracelet, and straw hat. The prices start cheaply. For example, a beautiful vanilla-scented pouch cost RMB 10.


The owner was easy-going, and very enthusiastic in showing me his wares. He recommended one of their new items, an 8-piece instrument called Ba Yin Qin. The instrument, when played with water drops in a tea ceremony, can produce euphonic sounds similar to the ones you hear in a chime-bell performance. The Ba Yin Qin cost RMB 180.


He also showed me a Suo Yi hat, a traditional Yi ethnic rainwear for hundreds of years. It has been used for so long, in fact, that Suo Yi has become a symbol of the Yi people. For RMB 120, you get the hat and a pair of shoes.


I also loved a variety of colorful kites coming from Weifang, the kite hometown of China, and various Chairman Mao products.



What I appreciate

Affordable prices, large variety of Chinese ethnic products


What customers appreciate

Wide selection of Chinese ethnic products, reasonable prices


As Chinese characters originated from pictures they were meant to describe, how to write words eventually developed into a form of art, even separating into different ¡°schools¡± of writing method. As a result, Chinese calligraphy is treated similar to paintings, and good ones often get framed and displayed. Fans of Chinese calligraphy hardly failed to visit Han Gu Xuan while sightseeing in the Drum Tower area. In addition to calligraphy, the shop also offers various types of paintings, jade, porcelain, and Chinese seals.


The owner himself is a renowned calligrapher. You can get an on-the-spot calligraphy by him starting at RMB 100, and vary pending the number of characters you wish to have. Displayed traditional Chinese paintings by nationally renowned painters start at RMB 1500, and rise upward to RMB 20,000. These paintings are all distinctive ancient Chinese style, and look quite different from western art. On-the-spot painting is available upon request.


Don¡¯t forget to see the china vases displayed on the left side of the counter. They date back over several hundred years to Qing Dynasty. As an expert appraiser himself, the owner personally guarantees the authenticity of the porcelains. Of course, if you just want some non-ancient reproductions instead, Han Gu Xuan also offers some of these products. They¡¯re excellent for gifts or souvenirs. Prices are negotiable.



What I appreciate

Exquisite porcelain and traditional Chinese paintings


What customers appreciate

Chinese calligraphy, traditional paintings.

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Beijing Shopping: Yu Hai Ying Zhou is an excellent shop for fans of Chinese ethnic products.