Yuhua Stone (Rain Flower Pebble)
Yuhua stone or pebble (Rain Flower Pebble) is one of the symbols of Nanjing. Also known as the lucky stones, the rain flower pebbles are produced in Yuhuatai (Rain Flower Terrace) and Lingyan Mountain in Liuhe District, Nanjing. Such pebbles are the sediments of the ancient riverbeds of the Yangtze River, geologically called gravels. The high-quality rain flower pebbles are called rain flower corals, which are colorful, sparkling and crystal clear. People keen on rain flower pebbles often “raise” the pebbles in water pots for appreciation. When rain flower pebbles were displayed overseas, they were called the “national treasures granted by nature”.
Nanjing Yunjin (Nanjing Cloud Brocade)
Nanjing cloud brocade was exclusively used by the imperial family in the past. Produced with high-quality materials, cloud brocade is gorgeous, colorful and as beautiful as clouds, hence the name. Another saying goes that the brocade produced in Nanjing got its name because its patterns are mainly clouds. Nanjing brocade mainly has four categories: Huaduan, Gold Weaving, Zhijin and Zhuanghua silk fabrics, of which Gold Weaving and Zhuanghua silk fabrics require the highest craftsmanship and have the strongest local characteristics. In particular, the weaving of some special patterns of Nanjing brocade can only be made with the traditional jacquard wooden loom rather than machines. You can buy the clothes made of Nanjing cloud brocade and various types of small handicrafts at the Cloud Brocade Museum.
Suzhou embroidery (Su Xiu), a general term for the embroidered products in Suzhou, originated from Wuxian County of Suzhou with a long history. Many royal families in the world once vied with each other for using the embroidered products of Suzhou. Suzhou embroidery has a great variety, such as single-side embroidery, double-side embroidery, table screen, wall screen, ground screen, and large combined screen, which show the themes of figures, pets, flowers, birds, scenery, still objects, and special architecture.
Yixing Pottery and Porcelain
Yixing is the birthplace of ceramics in the world, with a history of nearly 7,000 years of producing porcelain wares. Five types of pottery wares enjoy a high reputation in the world, i.e., boccaro pottery, Jun pottery, fine pottery, celadon pottery and painted pottery.
The boccaro teapots produced in Yixing have been loved by many collectors. The red ware is a general term referring to vermillion clay, red clay, purple clay and green, damask and black iron sands. As the red clay is high in quality, it can be used to produce unusual teapots with the appropriate water absorption rate and ventilation rate. Making tea with a boccaro teapot, you can enjoy the overall excellence in color, smell, taste and color of tea. Yixing celadon is thin, bright, ancient, unadorned and simple while showing the characteristics of the modern era; hence it is the best decorative object at home.
Huishan Clay Figurines
Huishan clay figurines, a local product of Wuxi, are made with black clay from the foot of Huishan Hill. The clay is very adhesive with a strong plasticity, hence the name of Huishan clay figurines. They fall into two series: Ah Fu series and Opera series. The former usually consists of a pair of figurines: Ah Fu (male) and Ah Xi (female) which express the people’s wish for a good luck. The latter is mainly composed of the characters in operas, which are vivid and lifelike.
Huishan clay figurines are well known throughout the world, and enjoy a reputation of being the “folk artworks with the richest Oriental colors”. With unique cultural and artistic value, Huishan clay figurines have been included in the first group of national intangible cultural heritages.
One of the nine major types of pearls in China, Taihu pearls are round, soft, smooth and bright, without “cores” and with fewer wrinkles. In the Qing Dynasty, Taihu pearls were exclusively used by the imperial family, and now they are good ornaments and precious medicinal materials. You should not miss the chance to buy some Taihu pearls when traveling in Wuxi.