Long history bestows Nanjing with rich art and craft works, which take with them graceful and exquisite qualities unique to Southern Yangtze River areas in China. It seems all the pieces of artworks are narrating the glorious past and immortal stories of this ancient city. Detailed shopping information is provided with TOC to ease your Nanjing journey.
What to Shop
Cloud pattern brocade
This is a kind of traditional jacquard silk craftwork in Nanjing. It is reputed as one of the "Three Famous Brocades" in China together with Song brocade in Suzhou and Shu brocade in Sichuan, based on its substantial quality, refined handiwork, graceful patterns and splendid colors. Just as the name implies, it looks as gorgeous as the colorful clouds in the sky. Now, it is a most precious non-material cultural heritage in China. Production history of cloud pattern brocade can trace back to the Three Kingdoms Period (208-280). Since the Yuan Dynasty (1206-1370), it had been served as the cloth material only for imperial families. The commoners couldn’t have the luxury of even looking at it. The brocade technic maturated and progressed in the Ming Dynasty (1271-1368). Till the Qing Dynasty (1636-1912), the Qing court stationed the "Jiangning Brocade Office" which helped the brocade�reach its flourishing peak with numerous types, majestic patterns and flowery colors. Today, its fame has got on wings in the whole world as the brocade being exported to other countries and regions in the forms of material for high-class apparel and costumes, table-cloth, back cushion, pillowcase, quilt cover, handbag, tie, hanging panel and other daily craftworks.
Purchase location: Nanjing Yunjin (Cloud Pattern Brocade) Research Institute
Address: No. 240, Chating Dong Street, Nanjing
Rain flower stone
Rain flower stone is a wonder as a kind of appreciation stones in the world. Originated from the picturesque Liuhe District at the lower reaches of the Yangtze River, it has beautiful color tones and patterns. This flower-entitled lovable is a combination of fine quality, shaping, design, coloring, line and imagery, and it enjoys the fame as "treasure blessed by heaven, unique of China". There as said was a sage master named Yunguang in the ancient times who preached a sermon so full of wisdom and virtue that it moved the deities above. To compliment the master, the delighted deities sprinkled a multicolored holy rain. When the drip-drops hit the ground, they turned into agate-like stones. Later, an official named the sermon spot Terrace of Raining Flowers in light of this piece of legend.
Purchase location: the Terrace of Raining Flowers, Confucian Temple, and Craft & Art Building
Velvet is a traditional silk weaving artwork in Nanjing. It falls into two types of silk-woven and silk-floss woven velvet with convex and concave patterns. Strong and substantial in material, dense and fine in knitting, serene and gentle in saturation, distinctive and exquisite in design, it is full of decorativeness with an artistic effect. Initially, its themes are mainly centered on gaily flowers but later it also dabbles in birds and fish, landscape scroll, scenic attraction as well as figuring ideas. It is widely used for table-cloth, cushion and hanging artistic tapestry.
Wood-carving in Nanjing is divided into two categories--ancient wood-carving and box-wood carving. The former is characterized with bold and powerful cutting handicraft as well as quaint and profound tint, being represented by vivid and extraordinary Tang Dynasty horse imitations, Lohan images and Buddha statues. The latter, on the other hand, is famous for subtlety, neatness and delicacy with attention mainly concerned with animal and figurines, more life-oriented.
Folding fan reared its�fame as early as the Ming Dynasty. There are bamboo folded fans, mandarin fans and bone fans. Its material could be gold, silver, rosewood, ebony, hawksbill, feather, paper and silk, featuring concise and sophisticated handiwork as well as deft and elegant look. Scholars in ancient China loved to take folded fans with them and they drew pictures and inscribe poems on the fans to show culture in them.
Jinling gold leaf
Manually hammering gold into pieces as thin as 0.1 micrometer with a complex processing method and unique technology, this is the way of making Jinling gold leaf, a traditional artisanship in China. Jinling means Nanjing, signifying ancient glory of this city. This piece of craftwork is mainly used on buildings, utensils, Buddhist statues and tourist souvenirs such as scrolls and bookmarks or as ingredient of precious Chinese medicine. Gold foils adornment on the Forbidden City, Great Hall of the People and the Potala Place are all produced in Nanjing. Also Jinling gold leaves are popular in Southeast Asian countries.
Purchase location: Longtan Town in the eastern suburb of Nanjing and Huayuan Country in Jiangning District are distributing centers of Jinling gold leaf and gold lines. There skills of making gold foils and lines run in the peasant families.
Where to Shop
Shopping centers in Nanjing mainly center in Xinjiekou in the center of the city proper, Hunan Road in the north, Taiping Nan Road in the south and the Confucian Temple. Zhujiang Road, famous for its electronic products is just one block north to Xinjiekou. All these places are easy to access by metro or bus. There’s also an antique market affiliated to Chaotiangong Place dealing with tourists-favored craft articles.
Xinjiekou is one of the ten "Famous Commercial Streets of China", only preceded by Wangfujing Street in Beijing and Nanjing Road in Shanghai, but its density ranks the first in China. Just a little place no larger than one square kilometers, it is really a golden place with every inch of the land contested by merchants. It has the best facilities, commodities and services, assembling plenty of shopping plazas such as Nanjing Xinbai, the Central Mall, Golden Eagle International, Grand Ocean Department Store, Dongfang Department Store, Deji Plaza, Jinling Department Stores etc. They keep myriad of dazzling world-famous brands and can satisfy every needs from customers. Apart from being a trendy and commercial center, Xinjiekou is also CBD of the city. Quite a number of financial institutes, consultation corporations, lawyer offices, accounting firms and headquarters of other big companies find their places here, among them nearly 100 are global top 500 enterprises.
Hunan Road is another prosperous commercial street in this ancient city. Over 200 stores are held here with 83% of them in the forms of name brand shops, boutiques and exclusive shops. As more developing methods being carried out, Hunan Road is in the progress of becoming bigger, more beautiful, thriving and influential, even though it is already a well-known civilized business street combining commercial activities, financial agencies with catering, culture, recreation and tourism establishments. Here you will see currents of tourists strolling along in the sunlight and resplendent lights and signboards under the night curtain.
Confucian Temple Market
A wholesale market crouching beside the Confucian Temple, it covers all kinds of goods vary from clothes to electronic toys. It also owns a pedestrian street flanked by franchised stores and many alleys lined up with a trail of snack bars. In many little ancient houses, there are also a lot of nice craft pieces to sell.
Chaotiangong Antique Market
It is the only authorized antique market in Nanjing, referring itself to the "First Historical Site in Nanjing" or Chaotiangong Palace, the biggest in size, highest in level and best preserved ancient architectural complex in Southern Yangtze River areas. Stalls at the square of Chaotiangong Palace are as old as 20, displaying variety of antiques and curios, calligraphy and paintings, valuable stones and utensils together with all kinds of odd items that span from the far-back Spring and Autumn Period (770-476 B.C.) to the recent Culture Revolution (1966-1976). Vendors just pile up the treasures before and expose them to customers. Though lacking a specified organization system, this market is always kept in good order. People wander back and forth among the stalls, leisurely chatting and appreciating. It is really a place full of fun.
Address: No.4, Chaotiangong Palace, Nanjing Museum
Bus lines: No. 4, 13, 48, 83
Complicated layout of Xinjiekou is easy to make you get lost. In case of this, it is strongly suggested that you should carefully read the maps on the walls of the underground passes or get a local person to be your guide. Enjoy your shopping experience in Nanjing. Wherever you go, you have my best wishes!