China hasmyriads 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.
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 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.
Traditional Chinese medicine is a school of its own with a profound heritage. Every conceivable variety of drug, herbal or otherwise, is being used for medical purposes, many of them with amazing curative efficacies. Drugs with a high tonic value are favorites with the Chinese. These include ginseng and its products, snow lotus, Chinese caterpillar fungus, Chinese wolfberries, licorice root, dangshen (Codonopsis pilosula), and the bulbs of fritillary (Fritillaria thunbergii). A wide range of patent drugs prepared according to traditional prescriptions, which are high in curative value and convenient for administration, are available in traditional Chinese pharmacies in China.
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, 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 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.
Raw lacquer is a native Chinese product which can be processed and mixed with gay colour pigments for the making of traditional Chinese lacquer ware with consummate craftsmanship. Famous products in this field include Beijing's carved lacquer ware, Fujian's bodiless lacquer ware, and lacquer ware from Sichuan and Jiangsu Province's Yangzhou.
Basketry and Matting
Bamboo, rattan, palm fiber, grass, corn husk and wheat straw make inexpensive, yet excellent raw materials for basketry and matting, so popular that they can be found virtually in every nook and corner of the country. Famous products in this category include woven bamboo ware from Nanjing, sleeping mats from Anhui, woven bamboo mats from Hunan, articles of woven straw and plaited corn husk from Shandong and Henan provinces, rattan products from Guangdong province, and woven straw and hemp products from Zhejiang Province.
Handy, artistically decorated, superbly crafted and incessantly upgraded, fans are favorites with visitors to China who regard them as brilliant flowers in the Chinese garden of arts and crafts. Chinese fans come in a rich variety, including folding fans from Hangzhou, sandalwood fans from Suzhou, feather fans from Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces, palmleaf fans from Guangdong Province, woven bamboo fans from Sichuan Province, and wheat-straw fans from Zhejiang Province.
Chinese tea is as famous as Chinese culture. Processed in different fashions, it falls into such categories as red tea, green tea, jasmine tea, and wulong tea. Among the better-known brands of Chinese tea are "Longjing" of Hangzhou, "Biluochun' of the Dongting Lake, "Tunlu" of Anhui, "Maojian" of Mount Huangshan, "Qihong" of Anhui, "Yihong" of Hubei, jasmine tea of Beijing, and "Tieguanyin" of Fujian. The Chinese take great delight in nursing a cup of tea while chatting with loved ones or friends.
China is one of the world's earliest winemaking countries. There are an impressive array of Chinese beverages, such as spirits, rice wine, grape wine, fruit wine, beer, and cocktails. Famous Chinese alcoholic beverages are Maotai, Fen Jiu, Wu Liang Ye, Gu Jing Gong Jiu, Yang He Da Qu, Jian Nan Chun; Chinese Red Wine, Vermouth, Qingdao White Wine, Special Fine Brandy, Dong Liquor, Beijing Special Brandy; Luzhou Old Cellar Te Qu, Shaoxing Jiafan Wine, Zhu Ye Qing, Qingdao Beer, Red Wine and Chen Gang Jiu from Yantai.
A long history has endowed the land of China with innumerous cultural artifacts. With the passage of time so many of them have found their way into the marketplace. All sorts of antiques and curios, traditional Chinese paintings and works of calligraphy, old time-pieces, carpets and ancient books are available in antique and curio fairs and shops operating in different places with government authorization. Browsing through these markets and shops and bargaining for a good price prove a fascinating experience in China.