The Costume Research Journal: A Quarterly Devoted to Costume and Dress 6
The Costume Research Journal is a publication of the Costume Design & Technology Commission of the Editor: Susan Brown-StraussArticles by TopicPast Issues by DateContributorCRJ print Subscription PageJoin our free Costumer's Info ListUSITT Costume Locator Service | width="441" align="center" valign="top" | Part 2 of 2 '''''Beijing for Costume Designers 'By Alexandra Bonds
Silk weaving was invented in China early in its 5000 year history and continues to be a major attraction for textile enthusiasts. The fabric stores also have a large selection of high quality wools, although it may be hard to think of wool if you are traveling to Beijing in the summer. The Wangfujing Dajie area is a very upscale shopping district. Walking a few blocks east of the Tiananmen Gate with the picture of Mao, on Dongchang�an Jie, (street), Wangfujing will be on the left or north side of the street. The department stores and wide pedestrian mall there are as elegant as any in the world and this district attracts much of the population of Beijing on a daily basis. Near the southern end of the mall, on the east side is the Silk and Cotton Shop, labeled in English, with a small fa�ade that has a criss cross diagonal rust pattern on cream. Inside, the store is much larger and has a wide selection of silk fabrics. They also have ready made garments in contemporary traditional styles, like qi pao, the Chinese version of the sheath dress, and jackets with frog closures and mandarin collars, as well as tailors who can be hired make clothing. Because of the neighborhood, this is a more expensive place to do business, but still
(Image not in format I can open) Figure 10. Textile vendors from minority regions at the Pangjiayuan Flea Market.
(Image not in format I can open) Figure 11. A Beijing opera mang or dragon robe with gold couched round dragons and deep waves.
(Image not in format I can open) Figure 12. A densely embroidered kao or armor with layered sections on the body and four flags behind worn for Beijing opera.
(Image not in format I can open) Figure 13. A young lady, left, wearing a pi or center front closing robe and her serving maid. | width="440" align="left" valign="top" | reasonable compared to prices in North America. For example, a pair of tailor made medium weight silk trousers was estimated at $32.00. Fabrics and tailoring are also available at the Friendship Store, described below, which caters specifically to foreign guests. With a smaller selection of fabrics, the prices here might be slightly lower than in Wangfujing.
The Qianmen Gate is on the southern edge below the Tiananmen Square complex, which is south of the Forbidden City. To the south and west of the Gate in an alley just off of Qianmen Dajie (street) is a clothing market, which runs through the alley to Dazhalan (street). At the northerly end of the market is a large fabric store called the Beijing Silk Shop. The facade looks a bit more like New Orleans than Beijing and it is only labeled in English by a small brass plaque off to the side. Fortunately, countless bolts of fabric are visible from the alley so it can easily be recognized as a textile destination. The range of fabrics is comparable to Wangfujing, and the prices for tailoring were lower here. The clothing market extends south for one long block. (See below for description) At the first major crossing, Dazhalan, a wider pedestrian shopping street, turn right or west and walk about a half a block to find another fabric store, Liufuxiang. A famous silk shop for over one hundred years, it is on the northern or right side, and has a concave curved fa�ade of white marble panels carved in bas relief, with black borders and gray columns. There is no English label on the shop, and the front room has clothing in it, but from the street, you can see the bolts of fabric in the second room. The silk selection was smaller here as they had more wools. The tailoring prices here were the lowest of the sources investigated. There doesn�t seem to be any bargaining in fabric stores and with the tailors.
Markets and Store Markets
The Friendship Store is located on Jianguomenwai Dajie (street), a continuation of Dongchangan Jie (street), mentioned above. It is a long walk from Wangfujing, but from the Jianguomen subway stop, you can take the northeast exit and continue walking east on the northern side of the street a short distance. You will come to a black, shiny fa�ade with Friendship Store in English above it in large gold letters. Friendship Stores are located in all the major cities in China and were designed specifically for the tourist trade to the extent that initially, the Chinese locals were not allowed inside them. If you are on a tour, a stop here is virtually guaranteed. This chain of stores carry a thorough cross section of items available in China, including a wide range of clothing, both contemporary and traditional, stone carvings, jewelry, rugs, and arts and crafts. The quality is generally high, along with the prices. It is a good idea to go to the Friendship Store to find out what kinds of items are available and then go to the markets listed below to try and find the same items for less. By checking the prices here first, you are better armed to bargain in the markets, as you will know that any item can be had for less outside. Whatever can�t be found in the markets, you can return to the Friendship Store to acquire at the end of your stay, and can use the market prices to try and bargain for a small reduction there. The first floor in the Friendship Store has a bookstore with English language books on Chinese culture and maps with both English and Chinese labels, which are essential for communicating with taxi drivers. This floor also carries souvenirs, electronics and rugs. The second floor merchandise is mostly clothing, with one of the best selections of embroidered traditional style coats, along with a wide range of brocade jackets, indigenous dress, and hand embroidered flowered piano shawls with deep fringe. The fabrics are on this floor as well. The third floor also has more clothing, as well as a large jewelry section. Beijing opera costumes are on sale here, and replications of Qing dynasty imperial garments. On the top floor, there is a display of antiques and furniture.
The vendors in Beijing, as well as other parts of Asia, tend to group together by like articles sold, so you will find antique markets, clothing markets, and so on. The Silk Market, primarily a clothing market, is one block to the east of the Friendship Store, or to the right when you are facing it. On the outside, there are several stalls with scarves and purses, and the fa�ade says Xiu Shui Market above the entrance into the narrow and crowded alley where the rest of the market is located. Unfortunately, there is very little here that is silk other than the pajamas, kimonos and scarves. It is getting harder to find contemporary styles made from silk, as the brand name copies seem to have taken over. Pashmina, cashmere and cotton seemed to be the more dominant fibers. A few vendors have ethnic garments, but the majority of them carry contemporary clothes. Shop No. 20 on the left near the entrance has a small selection of hand embroidered traditional style garments. No. 2 about two thirds of the way through the market, after the two sides change from parallel to perpendicular, also has traditional hand embroidered garments. As they can�t be seen unless you enter the stall, go to the back and up three steps into the concrete part of the shop.
In the Silk Market, as well as the other markets described below, bargaining is expected for every purchase over a few dollars. When you ask the price of something, the vendor will often start with an outrageous quote. Offer them a third or less and see how far down the second offer goes. If it drops suddenly, then keep your increments smaller, whereas if it comes down only a little, then you know you will need to up the ante more. A 25% discount from the original price is usually the minimum bargain, but you can get 50% or more depending on the circumstances. Checking around before buying is another effective strategy, as you will find quite a range in the starting prices on identical items. If you think you have not achieved a fair price, start to walk away and you will find out. If the vendor calls you back, they are willing to meet your price, if not, then you know that their last price is their limit. Pay only what you are willing, rest assured that the vendor will not short themselves, and enjoy the sport of bargaining.
Liulichang antique market is located on the east and west of Nanxinhua Jie, just south of Xuanwumen Dong Dajie, and about two blocks north of the location of the two theatres mentioned earlier. Liulichang is quite charming with the traditional carved and painted facades on the buildings and a beautiful marble bridge crossing from one side to the other. The majority of the vendors sell antiques or antique wannabes, but there are also scroll painting, book, and tea shops scattered throughout the area. You can find every sort of Chinese souvenir here as well, including cut paper ornaments, kites, and leather shadow puppets. On both the east and west sides, the shops nearest the street tend to be larger, and the farther you get from the street, the shops get smaller and more like a flea market. On the northeast side, not far from the street, a shop that looks like a scroll painting store is actually the opening to an arcade with multiple vendors inside. On the northwest side is a plain building with an ornate Chinese gate in front of it. It also starts with numerous paintings and then leads to an arcade. The east side has several vendors who specialize in antique garments and textiles, but contemporary replications are often displayed along with the genuine articles, so be a cautious shopper. Rank badge squares worn by officials in the Qing dynasty are particularly popular now and you might think that a treasure trove of unusually well preserved squares had just been uncovered, they are so plentiful. The ones that smell smoked are most likely reproductions that have been �aged� by the smoking process, which gives them a sepia toned patina.
Perhaps the largest and most diverse market is Hong Qiao Market, on Tiantan Dong Lu, (street), at the northeastern edge of Tiantan Park. The park is the site of the lovely round Temple of Heaven, which would be a featured destination in any other article about visiting Beijing. The park and the market could be visited easily in one day. This market is the economy version of the Friendship Store, with additional offerings. The first floor has electronic gadgets and costume jewelry, including several vendors of rhinestones. The second floor has clothing, both modern and traditional, with a host of silk pajamas, kimonos, and scarves. This floor has a wonderful array of beaded purses, some with solid bugle beading, and leather bags, as well as a wide selection of cheap suitcases to carry all the extra treasures that you acquire. The top floor is divided into three sections: an antique market which includes several vendors offering pieces of imperial dress, along with carved wood and stone decorative pieces, a pearl market which also includes some jade and amber jewelry, and a section with cloisonn� items. Along with hundreds of ginger jars and vase sets, there is an astonishing selection of cloisonn� Christmas ornaments, balls, bells, slippers, and more. The cloisonn� thimbles in matching lunchbox like containers are a desirable gift for costume friends and students. Generally, the prices at this market compare favorably to the rest of the city, but serious bargaining is recommended.
On weekends, the enormous Pangjiayuan Flea Market materializes on Pangjiayuan Qiao (street) a few blocks east of the third ring road, Dongsanhuan Nan Lu. It was in the process of being refurbished this fall, so it is likely to remain in this location in its newer and perhaps cleaner manifestation. The countless vendors here sell every imaginable flea market item, stone and wood carvings, scroll paintings, books, textiles, and full scale reproduction warriors from Emperor Qin Shihuang�s terra cotta army in Xian. This is the main location where textiles from China�s minority groups can be seen in quantity. They also have antique opera costumes, which appear to be authentic if only for the effective distressing. There are also other vendors with an assortment of antique looking textiles, banners, altar cloths, etc. The word on the street about this market is that nothing is what it seems to be, so be advised and consider paying only what you are willing to lose. Shrewd bargaining is recommended, as well as walking away, as the prices here seem to fluctuate even more than other locations. This market opens early in the morning and starts to pack up mid-afternoon. (Figure 10)
The Qianmen/Dazhalan Market, mentioned above, is another version of the Silk Market with many of the same kinds of clothing, jeans, t-shirts, shoes, hats and traditional garments. It seemed to have a little less trendy merchandise and the prices were a little bit lower. The north/south section which parallels Qianmen Dajie (street) has small stalls primarily with clothing. The east/west section on Dazhalan at the lower end has larger shops, mixing clothing with tea and herbalist shops. Beyond the north end of the market, there additional shops which wrap around both sides of the curved road that surrounds the Qianmen Gate. In addition to clothing, there are several souvenir shops with the usual carved stone and cloisonn� items. Often, stores in this area will have a table of jumbled items and a sign above it that is in Chinese. The sign will have a number on it, often a 10. This means that everything on that table is 10 yuan or about $1.25. There are some fantastic bargains to be found here, including cloisonn� chopsticks, Christmas ornaments and bracelets, and carved stone pendants.
For a real treat, you can take a stroll from the Qianmen Market a long block south to the area where the Beijing opera costumes are sold. The first major intersection is Zhushikou Dajie (street). Cross to the east side of Qianmen Dajie and continue heading south to about the second or third store, where you will start seeing the costume shops. There are a couple along the main road, and if you exit through the back door of these stores, you will find an alley that is lined with about a dozen more smaller shops. The windows often have fancy dress in them, but if you go inside, you will see shelves filled with folded opera costumes. They are purposefully stored with the lining on the outside to protect the embroidery, so you�ll need to figure out a way to have them unfurled, as English is rarely spoken in these shops. Elaborately embroidered dragon robes are called mang, and the word for armor is kao. (Figures 11, 12) Simpler robes are named pi and xue, pronounced shwai. (Figure 13) The costumes start at about $100 for a simple robe with a few embroidered flowers and the prices go up as the amount of embroidery increases. Some of the stores are selling machine embroidery, which not only has a different texture, but also more garish colors, and sometimes it is done on polyester, a frightening combination that doesn�t bode well for the future of this exquisite art. Check inside the glass cases for rhinestone hairpins, gold filigree headdresses, giant pearls and other costume items.
The destinations have been cataloged by type and the following is a listing by location and proximity, to help you plan your itinerary. The Friendship Store, and the Silk Market are within walking distance of the Jianguomen subway station at the intersection of the circle line and line one, in the eastern area of the city. Wangfujing is between the Friendship Store and the Forbidden City, and has its own subway stop with the same name. The Forbidden City is within walking distance of the Qianmen/Dazhalan Market and the Beijing opera costume area, all in the center of town. The two theatres, the Li Yuan in the Qianmen Hotel and the Hu Guang Hui Guang Theatre are close to Luilichang Market, to the west of the center of town. Hong Qiao and Pangjiayuan Markets are in the south central and southeast part of the city. A taxi or bus is needed from one location to the other as it is too far between them to walk. The Summer Palace is far out on the northwestern edge of town, requiring either a bus or taxi.
The destinations selected for inclusion in this article will give you an enjoyable introduction to the world of theatre, clothing and textiles in Beijing. A city with a rich tapestry of history and customs, there are countless other exciting destinations of interest in Beijing beyond this focus. For more information on the wider aspects of Beijing and Chinese culture, as well as more complete travel directions, peruse your guidebooks. With the 2008 Olympics appearing in Beijing�s future, changes to the city are happening rapidly. Several of the locations mentioned above were undergoing renovations as this material was being researched. While all information was up to date at the time of printing, be aware that Beijing is undergoing a major transformation in the next few years, and all information described here is subject to change, including content, locations and prices.
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