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Items to buy in China

Old Apr 27th, 2002, 12:35 PM
  #1  
Bob
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Items to buy in China

Are there any experienced shoppers out there with some ideas on things to purchase in China in the way of art or things for your home? Not interested in any food or drink or clothes. Any experiences would be appreciated.
 
Old Apr 28th, 2002, 07:37 AM
  #2  
Peter N-H
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How about a guide book ?

Peter N-H
http://members.axion.net/~pnh/China.html
 
Old Apr 28th, 2002, 05:33 PM
  #3  
Margot
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Bob, Some of the things we like to buy in China are double-sided embroidery in nice frames. You can buy them at the Embroidery Institute in Suzhou or less expensive ones in a shop there or in Shanghai. Things made of cloissone are also beautiful and come in a variety of items from thimbles to grandfather clocks. Long scrolls are popular, again with a variety of painting styles from flowers, mountains, birds, etc. Jade carving is found everywhere and beautiful glass items painted on the inside--really amazing. We also bought a nice silk rug and just folded it and put it in our suitcase. On two separate trips someone has bought a full-size replica of a terra cotta warrior at Xian. The Chinese are very artistic and you won't have any trouble finding beautiful things to buy. Just bargain and have a fun trip.
 
Old Apr 29th, 2002, 05:51 AM
  #4  
Bev
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I'm curious! How did the tourists get their full-size replica of a terra cotta warrior home to the States. Did they ship them on the plane or have them shipped by the vendor? I love them and would like to consider purchasing one if I get to go there this summer.

Thanks - Bev
 
Old Apr 29th, 2002, 07:13 AM
  #5  
clarence
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The shop in the museum will ship the warrior to you .

http://www.taxitour.com
 
Old Apr 29th, 2002, 05:11 PM
  #6  
Bob
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Thanks Margot. That is what I was looking for versus the remark by Peter that was useless.

Anyone else have any tips?
 
Old Apr 29th, 2002, 05:53 PM
  #7  
Peter N-H
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Here are some slightly less orthodox suggestions:

There's a long tradition of kite-making in China, and many of the specimens are quite beautiful. Traditionally the best ones come from a small town in Shandong Province, and almost any vendor will tell you their kites are from there. Many are quite attractive enough to be mounted on the wall, and something like a 'dragon-headed centipede'--a string of small kites forming the body, with a dragon's head at the front, can be strung across quite a distance if that pleases you. The place to look for such things would be the Yuting Flower, Bird, and Fish market, opposite the southeast corner of the Temple of Heaven. Here one aisle deep in the market has nothing but kite vendors and kite repairers. If you don't want to go that far, and don't mind paying a little more, the Post Office on Chang'an Dajie almost opposite the International Hotel has some specimens for sale. Some come in silk lined boxes. There's also a good vendor deep inside the Guanyuan Market, a short walk up the right hand side of the second ring road from Fucheng Men metro station.

Here are some other curios, as well. In an alley at the back of the market they sell crickets, grasshoppers, and katydids, which the Chinese prize for their song, and also bet on fights between certain breed. The paraphernalia for looking after these insect pets include beautiful bamboo cages (like miniature bird cages), tiny ceramic feeding dishes, little spoons, finely carved gourds with ornate grilled tops (used for carrying the insect tucked inside a jacket), and even items carved from bone in imitation of gourds. These may all sound bizarre, but unlike made-for-visitors arts and crafts, they are not only quite beautiful, but truly very Beijing.

It's worth noting, by the way, that very many ordinary items made in China which we buy at home can be bought more cheaply there. For instance, if you'd like to keep your herbs and spices in glass jars with ground glass stoppers, like you had in chemistry class at school, you can buy them in China for less than 30cents US. From the Huaqiao Dasha (Prime Hotel) at the top of Wangfujing walk south on the left hand keep looking in the windows. After a few minutes you'll stumble across a shop specialising in scientific glassware.

Hope that helps.

Peter N-H
http://members.axion.net/~pnh/China.html

[If a posting is a repeat of another one already made, is only one line long, isn't on topic, has bad spelling or grammar, or doesn't contain useful additional information, it's not from me.]
 
Old Apr 29th, 2002, 08:32 PM
  #8  
Connie
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If you get a chance to go to a cloisonne factory you will be amazed. You will decide that they are worth more than what they charge. Go ahead and bargain anyway. It is expected. Our tour guide told us they consider you ignorant if you do not bargain.

 
Old Apr 30th, 2002, 11:53 AM
  #9  
Bob
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My compliments to Peter. Good info and appreciated. He told me in a separate communication that he did not write the first post on this query.
 
Old Apr 30th, 2002, 07:44 PM
  #10  
Kathie
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I bought a lovely hand-carved inkstone in China. There are also intricately carved ink sticks and calligraphy brushes available. You can have a chop carved with your name or someone else's in Chinese characters.

I love the Yi-xing teapots, and I always buy my favorite teas, especially jasmine pearls.
 
Old May 5th, 2002, 08:58 PM
  #11  
steven
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South Sea pearls in Guilin's pearl "factory". Far superior to the Beijing pearl factory we "visited". They are a thing of beauty, the same as are found in Tahiti. Large, well formed, luminous. The prices are a fraction of what we would pay in the US. I didn't want to go to another "factory. we had traveled to many areas with a group and were required to visit shopping sites (nothing else to do without transportation). I actually sat outside the pearl factory in Beijing, after a few brief moments of the "tour". But to make things pleasant for our super helpful CTS guide Fannie Mo in Guilin,and because my wife loves to shop and jewelry is a favorite, I consented. It was more like being in a gallery than a shop. The pieces were truly stunning. We bought a piece for $366, Fortunoffs was selling a similar piece, size, color, shape and fewer diamonds of the same quality in the setting for $2100.
 
Old May 5th, 2002, 09:37 PM
  #12  
Peter N-H
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As has been pointed out several times on this site by a number of people, China is the home of clever fakes, and almost nothing of what you are sold is real. Buying high value items such as precious stones and precious metal items is very unwise unless you are a professional who knows precisely what he or she is doing.

Common sense should suggest that nothing with an internationally traded value in hard currency is likely to be sold for a sixth of the price in China. (Otherwise we'd all be on planes earning ourselves entirely free holidays, I presume.)

As Juliet Bredon, long time resident of Beijing and author of a fine 1920s guide book put it--speaking of antiques but the same applies to jewellery and all other purchases:

'Approach all curios, and most dealers, with caution. A thief may be considered innocent till he is proved guilty, but a first class K'ang Hsi vase (according to the merchant) should be held guilty of fraud till it is proved to be above suspicion by some one who knows and is disinterested... Whenever a Chinese offers to let a good piece go at a sacrifice, be sure that the sacrifice is on the side of the buyer and the victim is the customer, not the shopkeeper.'

The interesting exercise would be to have Fortunoff's (presumably a jeweller) value the item acquired in China. Almost no one buying gems anywhere in Asia has a happy experience doing this.

Even commemorative coins on sale at Chinese post offices (surely a very respectable outlet) recently proved to have considerably less silver in them than advertised.

And if a guide, however charming, insists on taking you into lots of shops, it's only because there's a handsome profit to be made by the shop, and an equally handsome kick-back for the guide.

It cannot be emphasised too strongly that making such purchases in China is very unwise.

Peter N-H
http://members.axion.net/~pnh/China.html
 
Old May 16th, 2002, 03:34 PM
  #13  
Duke
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Top this for more suggestions
 
Old May 17th, 2002, 07:01 PM
  #14  
scigirl
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In the 'pearl market' in Beijing on the third or fourth floor (memory is a little vauge here...sorry) there is a section of 'antique' stores. I found them very interesting to poke through - full of a wide variety of interesting things (wall hangings, Mao clocks, little bottles, linens, etc.). The shops had both new and 'antique' goods. Found that we were able to bargain with these dealers more successfully than at some of the other markets. The Friendship stores also have household things - but the prices tend to be higher than you'd pay outside. However, it is a good low pressure place to look and get a sense of the absolute most you should pay for certain things.

If you consider buying pearls at the pearl market, be sure to educate yourself. I found this book helpful:

Jewelry & Gems, The Buying Guide, 4th Edition: How to Buy Diamonds, Pearls, Colored Gemstones, Gold and Jewelry with Cofidence & Knowledge
by Antoinette L. Matlins, Antonio C. Bonanno

But, there are loads of other good books out there. Anyhow, you can get a pair of pearl earrings for about $2.50 - so not a major loss if you make a mistake. I found the dealers to be honest. Be sure to bargain - they are all carrying the same merchandise (pearls) so you can always move on if you aren't satisified with the price. I ended up buying quite a few pairs of earrings as gifts.

The suggestions by the other posters regarding other things (scroll, etc.) are good too.

Have a good trip.
 
Old May 18th, 2002, 03:41 PM
  #15  
Nancy
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I one item I kicked myself for not getting was a wooden sculpture of a Buddha. I especially liked the laughing Buddha. I finally got one this year in Thailand but still wished I gotten one in China since that's where I first saw it. If you see anything you like, buy it now as you may not see it again.
 
Old May 19th, 2002, 07:23 AM
  #16  
Neek
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When we were in Guilin we wanted to buy a painting because this is of course near the Jiang Li with all of its wonderful limestone formations. We were traveling (so luckily) with a small tour group of two couples. Our guide suggested that we go to the University there if we wanted to buy a painting. He advised that these would be of much higher quality than those flogged in the tourist markets. There were not only paintings by the students but also by some nationally renowned Chinese artists. We bought one of these paintings and also some less expensive scrolls for our children. I have had it framed and it is truly a beautiful piece that makes us think fondly of Southern China every time we look at it.

The art is mostly watercolour. They do have some on silk etc. Definitely worthwhile.
 
Old May 27th, 2002, 10:41 AM
  #17  
Bob
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Top this for more feedback.
 
Old Jun 5th, 2002, 08:25 AM
  #18  
Lynne
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Does anyone know how much the life sixe Terra Cotta Warriors were? Is there negotiation in the museum gift shop? Thanks.
 
Old Jun 13th, 2002, 11:59 AM
  #19  
Patty
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Lynne,
I don't remember how much they were asking for the life size warrior replicas but definitely bargain, especially in the museum gift shop. Everything in there was outrageously expensive (for China).
 
Old Jun 13th, 2002, 02:03 PM
  #20  
Randy
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Go to travelchinaguide.com for terra cotta warriors. Their price is better than anything I saw in China, although I could have bargained a few places down to this price.
 

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