When traveling in China, you may like to buy some Chinese-style souvenirs. Then Suzhou is the place for you! Suzhou is famous for its classical gardens and traditional water towns; meanwhile, it is also a paradise for shopping. In Suzhou, you can easily find many gifts with unique Chinese characteristics and a long history, such as the silk, fans, embroidery, Biluochun tea, freshwater pearls, colored lanterns, miniature sculpture, Taohuawu New Year Pictures, candies & pastries, and so on.
Chinese silk enjoys high reputation in the world, and in China, Suzhou is famous for its silk. In the Song, Yuan, Ming and Qing periods, the official weaving bureau was set here. Silk is one of the best materials for clothing – it has a look and feeling of richness that no other fabrics can match. There are a variety of products under various names: zhang satin, weaving gold, flash satin, figured damask, facsimile satin, tribute satin, velvet, Korean yarn, colorful and raw stain, etc.
Suzhou Fan, with a long history, is the general term for any type of Suzhou folding fans, sandalwood fans, silk palace fans, paper round fans, all of which are famous for their ingenious exquisiteness. Folding fan get its name from its function: it could be folded. The skeleton is made of bamboo, and fan is made of rice paper. The production of Suzhou folding fan began in the Southern Song Dynasty. In Yuan and Ming dynasties, famous craftsmen appeared in a great number and the production became increasingly sophisticated and delicate.
Suzhou Embroidery (Su Embroidery)
Suzhou embroidery, praised as a pearl in the treasure house of Chinese art, appeared in the Northern Song Dynasty and was briefly named as Su embroidery. According to history records, Su embroidery was so popular in the Song Dynasty that people even named their lanes with names concerned with silk and embroidery, and almost every family raised silkworm and embroidered. Su Embroidery has wide range of themes. Its techniques include single-sided embroidery, and unique double-sided embroidery which looks the same from either side. Simple composition, clear theme, vivid image and gentle color are basic features of delicate Su embroidery.
Biluochun, one of China’s Ten Famous Teas, belongs to green tea. It is mainly produced in Dongting Mountain in Wuzhong District, so it is also called “Dongting Biluochun”. The planting region of Biluochun is China’s famous tea and fruits co-planting area, which enables Biluochun tea to possess unique natural fruit fragrance and excellent quality. The tea leaves of Biluochun are tight knots, and its curling shape resembles snails. With its external white soft fibers, this silver green tender tea leaves will gradually extend after the pouring of water. When sipping it, you will feel the cool and sweet taste. No wonder it was listed as a tribute as early as the Tang and Song dynasties.
China is a main freshwater pearl producer, with annual production of about 1,800 tons, accounting for more than 95 percent of the world’s annual production. While talking about Chinese freshwater pearls, the first name jumps to people’s minds is Weitang pearl, which is the finest in the world. Located in Weitang Town, Suzhou City, China Pearl Gem City is the country’s first and largest freshwater pearl market.
Suzhou-style Colored Lantern
Suzhou-style colored lantern, a product collecting painting, paper cutting, paper strips, weaving and embroidery handicrafts, has developed into an individual crafts industry as early as in Song Dynasty. The diverse, bizarre, colorful lanterns embody the folk culture of the South Yangtze Water Town. Among them, the exquisitely carved magic lantern is typical in representing Suzhou’s features and is extremely popular among people – after lighting it up, the inner part of the lantern can be automatically rotated, on which the painting stories will present you with a vivid show.
Among Suzhou arts and crafts productions, the finest and most delicate one belongs to the miniature sculpture. By using an extremely thin triangular knife, the artists can carve the paintings, figures and poems in the bamboo, ivory or even hair. The more exquisite sculpture of smaller size is more valuable.
Taohuawu Woodcut New Year Pictures
With a long history, the Taohuawu New Year Pictures originated from the Carving Printing Craftwork of the Song Dynasty. The pictures are named after Taohuawu (north to Suzhou City), where the production area is situated. Through designs, woodcut skills and engraving, the pictures are printed with traditional watermark mode, namely one plate with one color. The composition of picture is plump, bright and decorative. It usually takes folktales, festivals, figures of Gods, dramas and current affairs as the theme, and expresses people’s good wish through techniques of symbols, metaphors and exaggeration.
Suzhou-style Candies & Pastries
Suzhou-style candy is regarded as one of the most popular and tasty traditional Chinese sweets, and Suzhou-style pastries are famous for the features of being sweet, loose, soft, chewy, seasonal and fresh, such as the moon cake in the 8th lunar month. Everyone in Suzhou, both the old and the young, all know the candies and pastries produced by the “Caizhizhai”, which is one of China’s time-honored shops, offering more than 300 different kinds of candies and pastries.