Lately, I’ve been walking around Changshu Road in Shanghai, and a small shop called “HongGuan” (“红馆” in Chinese, which means “the Red Gallery”) caught my eyes. They have beautiful Choanosome and Ceramic paintings, and I immediately thought: “These could be fantastic gifts for my friends!” I can’t remember how many times I searched “gifts to bring back home” on Google when I’m abroad. It has always been a huge challenge for me to pick gifts for my homies in a foreign country. But I can easily pick gifts for my foreign friends in my hometown, Shanghai. Like many travelers, you may choose to buy gifts from airports or popular shopping malls. You’re never confined to these places. Shanghai has tones of unique gift shops, and every one of them have something that is worth the price. “HongGuan” is definitely one of them.
Read on to see 3 fantastic gifts “HongGuan” would surprise you with love and creativity.
1ST GIFT: Ceramic Painting
Ceramic Painting is a kind of traditional Chinese art. The long history of ceramic painting can be retraced back to 100-200 AD, when in late Eastern Han Dynasty, Chinese pottery reached its first climax. From that, ceramics and pottery in China started to develop countless techniques and styles. Ceramic painting is one of them. Being different from most potteries and porcelains in ancient China, ceramic painting is not like a plate or a pot, instead, it’s like an oil painting. We usually embed it in pieces of wooden furniture or hang it on the wall.
Ceramic paintings in “HongGuan” has a unique feature: the surface of the ceramics is uneven. The creation of these ceramic paintings very much resembles the technique used in lead-glazed sancai (“三彩” in Chinese, which means three-color) wares which are very popular during the Tang Dynasty (581-970 AD). Lead-glazed sancai uses lead to first outline the patterns on the ware, and then uses glaze to paint the whole ware. Using lead prevents glazes of different color from mixing together. “HongGuan” ceramic painting adopts similar technique, but it uses slurry to contour its patterns. Slurry lines make the surface of the ceramics uneven. The function of slurry lines is also to prevent glazes from mixing together. Sometimes, craftsmen take out slurry lines on purpose to let various colored glaze blend and create a harmonic color gradient. Sometimes, odds are the master of miracles.
“HongGuan” provides gorgeous ceramic painting hand-made by their craftsmen. Also, they arrange ceramic workshops for those who want to make their own personalized ceramic paintings. (I’ve ran into one of their workshops, it’s super lovely!)
2nd GIFT: Cheongsam