Shopping in China (finding uniquely Chine stuff)

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Shopping in China (finding uniquely Chine stuff)

Postby long_way » Mon Mar 24, 2008 8:44 pm

China has a wonderful variety of raw materials due to its vast territory and various climates. The tumultuous history of Chinese civilization has left behind a rich cultural heritage, which can be found in traditional arts and crafts.

Shopping is a major activity for tourists who come to China. High up on their shopping lists are silk products, embroidery, Chinese calligraphy and paintings, Chinese medicine, cloisonne enamel, ceramics, carvings, woven arts and crafts, lacquer ware, Chinese fans, the four treasures of the study, tea, liquor, folk arts and crafts, and local products.

1. Silk.
China is known as the home of Silk. Silkworms are raised in many places, such as Jiangsu, Guangdong, Hunan, and Sichuan. Hangzhou is the most famous city in China for silk products in great variety, including silk, satin, damask, and brocades.

2. Embroidery.
The four most famous types of embroidery in China are embroideries from Jiangsu, Hunan, Guangdong, and Sichuan provinces. The most famous styles of brocade are yunjin from Nanjing, songjin from Suzhou, and shujin from Sichuan. There are other well known styles of brocade made by minority peoples, such as Zhuang, Dai Li, Dong, and Tujia.

3. Chinese calligraphy and paintings.
Chinese calligraphy and paintings form a cross-section of the traditional Chinese culture. High-grade calligraphy and paintings are the best souvenirs for foreign travelers. Most works are done on a kind of paper known as xuan. There are also other forms of art, such as shell paintings from Dalian, Qingdao, Beihai, Guangdong, and Fujian; bark paste-ups from Jilin; soft-wood paintings from Fuzhou; paintings on bamboo curtains from Sichuan; straw patchwork from Guangdong and Heilongjiang and feather paste-ups fromShenyang and Shandong.

4. Jade (玉, Yù)
Chinese jade is any of the carved-jade objects produced in China from the Neolithic Period (c. 3000–1500 BC) onward. The Chinese regarded carved-jade objects as intrinsically valuable, and they metaphorically equated jade with human virtues because of its hardness, durability, and (moral) beauty.

Jade is generally classified into soft jade (nephrite) and hard jade (jadeite). Since China only had the soft jade until jadeite was imported from Burma during the Qing dynasty (1271-1368), jade traditionally refers to the soft jade so it is also called traditional jade. Jadeite is called Feicui in Chinese. Feicui is now more popular and valuable than the soft jade in China.
Several cities in China have been named Jade Capitals of China (Anshan (鞍山, Ānshān) and Xiuyan County in Liaoning province, Yangmei Village, Dongshan District, Jieyang City in Guangdong Province, jade from Qinghai province is famed, Hong-Kong is another place whe jade abounds etc).

5. Ceramics.
Ceramics is one of the many traditional Chinese handicrafts. Jingdezhen is known as the Chinese Capital of Ceramics ( http://www.jdz.gov.cn/eng/ ). The best pottery-making sites in China are Yixing in Jiangsu Province, Shiwan in Guangdong Province, and Luoyang in Henan Province.

Luoyang's tri-colored glazed pottery is world famous. It uses red, green and white colors to imitate the tri-colored glazed pottery popular in the Tang Dynasty.

Yixing mainly produces pottery for daily use (like tea-pots). Pottery from Shiwan is simple and unsophisticated, often used to make containers in the shape of human figures.

Other famous products include porcelain from Jingdezhen in Jiangxi Province, Longquan porcelain from Zhejiang Province, jun and ru porcelain from Henan, and porcelain from Tangshan and Xuanhua in Hebei Province.

6. Traditional Chinese medicine.
Traditional Chinese medicine is famous for its large variety and amazing effectiveness. The most popular Chinese medicinal herbs are ginseng, saussurea involucrata, Chinese caterpillar fungus, matrimony vine, licorice, root of hairy asiabell, and fritillary bulb.

7. Carvings.
Many materials are used for carvings, such as jade, stone, wood, bamboo, ink slab, coal, crystal, willow branches, roots, and shells.

8. Cloisonne enamel.
Beijing is the main producer of cloisonne enamel. Popular during the reign of Emperor Jing Tai (1450-1457) of the Ming Dynasty, cloisonne enamelware includes vases, bowls, plates, desk lamps, and cups.

9. Four treasures of the study.
The four treasures of the study are the writing brush, ink, the ink slab, and paper. Regions famous for xuan paper, ink, brushes, and ink slabs are Jingxian County in Anhui Province, Shexian County in Anhui Province, Huzhou in Zhejiang Province, Zhaoqing in Guangdong Province, and Wuyuan in Jiangxi Province. The four treasures of the study make up one of the best souvenirs of traditional Chinese culture.

10. Lacquer ware.
Lacquer ware is a traditional Chinese handicraft. The regions best-known for producing lacquer ware in China are Beijing, Fuzhou, Yangzhou in Jiangsu Province, and various regions in Sichuan Province.

11. Woven articles.
Bamboo, rattan, palm fiber, and wheat straw are used as raw materials for woven articles. The most famous woven articles are woven bamboo ware from Nanjing, summer sleeping mats from Anhui and Hunan provinces, articles made of wheat stalks and plaited com husks, and articles of woven rattan, hemp and straw from Guangdong and Zhejiang provinces.

12. Chinese fans.
Chinese fans are popular tourist souvenirs for foreign friends. They come in a large variety and are of good quality. The most famous fan-producing regions are Jiangsu, Zhejiang, Sichuan, and Guangdong provinces.

13. Tea.
China was one of the first countries to grow and process tea, and Chinese tea is famous around the world. Chinese tea can be divided into black tea, green tea, scented tea, and Oolong. The famous brands are longjing from Hangzhou, biluochun from Dongting Lake, tunlu and qihong from Anhui, maofeng from Mt. Huangshan, yihong from Hubei, jasmine from Beijing, and tieguanyin from Fujian.

14. Liquor.
China was one of the first countries to brew liquor and today has many kinds of liquor, such as white spirits, yellow-rice wine, millet wine, red wine, fruit wine, and beer. The most famous types of Chinese liquors are maotai, fenjiu, wuliangye, gujinggongjiu, yanghedaqu, jiannanchun, red wine, white wine, brandy dongjiu, specially made Beijing brandy, luzhoulaojiao tequ, shaoxing jiafan, zhuyeqing, Qingdao Beer, Yantai Red Wine, and chengangjiu.

Other choices for souvenirs are blankets, rugs silk umbrellas, New Year's paintings papercuts, kites, traditional and ethnic clothes, and traditional toys. Famous local products include candied fruits from Beijing, raisins from Xinjiang, cashmere and camel hair products from inner Mongolia, caracul from Qinghai, sheepskin from Ningxia, and fur from Jilin.

To help tourists buy what they want, many local travel agencies have accredited high-quality shopping centers or department stores as "fixed" or "reliable". The tourist can also change money in medium and large-sized stores, which also offer other services such as mail-order, consignment, and customs applications for customers. These centers will offer the best services and goods at fair prices.

Last but not the least, keep in mind that all of the above mentioned items are often sold as counterfeit goods and very few are able to distinguish fakes from the authentic items.
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