As a gateway to Tibet, the start of the
southern Silk Road and long an important center of commerce and trade
(even Marco Polo had something to say about Chengdu!), this is a city
with a good selection of souvenirs and things to buy.
There are a few good local specialties
which are worth having a look at even if you don't want to make a
purchase! Shu Brocade is an interesting example of exquisite workmanship
and detail. Exclusive to Chengdu and available throughout the city, is a
wealth of Bamboo craftwork including table mats, chairs, vases and other
pretty pieces. This kind of stuff is incredibly fashionable at the
moment in the west and sold in stores such as IKEA for about ten times
the price in Chengdu! Equally impressive are the beautiful
Silverware pieces and Qingcheng Silk Tapestries.
The best place to pick up all these
souvenirs is at the evening street market beside the Jin
Jiang Hotel and the Minshan
Hotel. This is a great atmospheric market selling all kinds of weird
and wonderful goods. In the daytime, there is an interesting antiques
market on Chaotang Bei Lu, in the west of the city. Don't forget
to bargain at both these places as traders and store owners are used to
seeing foreign faces and ripping them off!
For those interested in cooking authentic
Sichuan cuisine, most ingredients for spicy cooking should be available
in the People's Supermarket near the railway station.
Since Chengdu is home to the panda, the area is also home to bamboo. Apart from food for the bears, bamboo is used to make covers and mats for vases, teapots, bowls, caskets etc. Only a special type of bamboo is used to make these pieces.
This kind of stuff is very fashionable in the west at the moment and the Chengdu Bamboo Weaving Factory, is the most famous factory making bamboo products in Chengdu. The prices here are much more reasonable than in the west too!
Chengdu is one of the major producers of lacquer ware. The Chinese name the different types of laquerware according to the method of production. Many different types of laquer product are produced in Chengdu including wall decorations and screens.
Some pieces are covered with flax, paper or plastic before they are painted to avoid the wood rotting. The main factory producing these exquisite pieces is the Chengdu Lacquer Craft Factory at 81 Jinghejie.
This brocade, soft in feel and flamboyant in color, has a history of over two thousand years, and it is one of the four best and most famous brocades in China along with Nanjing Brocade, Suzhou Brocade and Guangxi Brocade.
Developed over more than twenty centuries, over several hundred types have evolved and brocade has become an integral part of the ornament of women in the ethnic groups from southwestern China. However, handmade brocade has given way to modern textile industries and there is only one factory lremaining in the city that specializes in making Sichuan Brocade.
Silk tapestry are hand made rugs which use silk and spun silk as materials. After the tapestry has been spun by machine, the pattern is delicately woven by hand. This is a popular wall hanging. The tapestry is smooth and sleek and to touch it feels soft and springy. China exports this product to the west and southeast Asia and this makes a lovely souvenir.
Chengdu has long been famous for its silverware. Chengdu silver is produced from extremely thin and fine threads of metal, which are as thin as hair. The delicate pieces are welded together and made into jewelry, wall decorations, table decorations and other pretty pieces. Silverware is widely available throughout Chengdu. Try the Arts & Crafts Service Department Store.