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What to buy in China?

(People's Daily Online)

09:32, June 14, 2012

China has myriads of souvenirs to offer to its visitors. Just to name a few: silks, embroideries, brocades, traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy, furniture, medicinal herbs, cloisonne, ceramics, carvings and sculptures, woven hand works, artistic fans, lacquer wares, traditional Chinese stationery, tea, beverages, folk arts and crafts of different ethnic backgrounds, and native products and local specialties.

Silks
China is a 'Kingdom of Silk" of world renown. Jiangsu, Guangdong, Hunan and Sichuan provinces abound in natural silk and products made of it. The most distinguished silk products, however, are found in Hangzhou, where they come in a dozen varieties including pongee, brocade, damask, faille, and satin. All of them are pleasantly colored and soft and smooth to the touch.

Embroideries and Brocades
Suzhou, Changsha,Guangdong and Chengdu are known as China's four major schools of embroidery. The most famous Chinese silk products include the cloudy-patterned embroidery of Nanjing, Song-style satins of Suzhou, and Sbu-style embroidery of Sichuan. Some ethnic minorities, such as Zhuang, Dai, Li, Dong and Tujia, produce silk products in distinct styles.

Calligraphy & Painting
With a long historical and cultural tradition, calligraphy and painting are an epitome of traditional Chinese culture. A finely wrought piece of calligraphy or painting always makes an ideal souvenir. Apart from the renowned xuan paper, there are a good variety of media for traditional Chinese painting and calligraphy. These include shell mosaics produced in Dalian of Liaoning, Qingdao of Shandong, Beihai of Guangxi, Guangdong and Fujian; tree-bark pictures from Jilin; cork patchwork of Fuzhou; paintings on bamboo curtains from Sichuan; wheat straw patchwork from Chaozhou of Guangdong and Heilongjiang; and feather patchwork from Shenyang and Shandong.

Ceramics
Ceramics is a traditional Chinese handicraft with a long history. The best pottery-making centers are Yixing in Jiangsu Province, Shiwan in Guangdong Province, and Luoyang in Henan Province. Luoyang's tri-coloured pottery in Tang style is known throughout the world. Yixing's pottery is mostly made for everyday use and is especially known for its purplish brown, glazed, polychrome and refined products. Luoyang's tri-coloured pottery, glazed red, green and white, made a name for itself as early as the Tang Dynasty. Famous Chinese porcelains include celadon ware from Longquan of Zhejiang Province; the Ru-style porcelain ware (glazed grayish blue with a jade like material) from Linru, and the highly decorate Jun-style ware of Yuxian County of Henan Province; and products from Tangshan and Xuanhua of Hebei Province. None of these porcelain-making places, however, rival the fame of Jingdezhen, the 'Capital of Chinese Percelain-making Industry', and famille-rose, blue-and-white, eggshell-thin, and exquisite porcelains are its trademark products.

Carving & Sculpture
Traditional Chinese carving and sculpture are based on every material imaginable: jade, stone, wood, bamboo, black amber, crystals, tree roots, shells, and whatnot. Whatever the material, the products are distinguished by the ingenious integration of likeness of imagery with graphic expressiveness and spiritual resonance. There is no lack of exquisite works at your choice.

Cloisonne
Cloisonne, also known as filigree enamel work, is perhaps the most famous of all traditional Chinese metal craftworks, with Beijing as the producing center. Cloisonne is called "jingtailan" because its popularity reached a peak during the Jingtai reign (1450-1457) of the Ming Dynasty. The Chinese cloisonne comes in such forms as vases, bowls, plates, table lamps, and cups used as prizes.

Traditional Stationery
Traditional Chinese stationery , more popularly known in this country as 'Four Treasures of the Study', namely, writing brush, ink stick, ink slab and paper, are a fitting symbol of traditional Chinese culture.
Among the more famous products are xuan paper produced in Jingxian County, Anhui Province; Huizhou-style ink sticks in Shexian County, Anhui Province; writing brushes in Huzhou, Zhejiang Province; and ink slabs produced in Zhaoqing of Guangdong Province, Shexian County of Anhui Province, Wuyuan of Jiangxi Province.

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