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Copyright 2001-7 by Sue Brown & Dr.
Specialties and Shopping
Adapted from "Fujian
Adventure", Magic Fujian, and other
Fuzhou Links History
Nantai Island (Foreign Devils & Chinese Ghosts)
is famous for many handicrafts, from wooden sculptures and shoushan stone
carvings, jade sculpture, and bamboo handicrafts to porcelain, paper lanterns,
and paper parasols (which Japanese borrowed centuries ago with a total
disregard for intellectual property rights). I could literally lose myself
in the intricate miniature worlds of cork carvings like the one at the
right, which graces our living room. And Fuzhou is also famous for gold
and silver jewelry; the Fuhui Jewelry Mansion is the largest such enterprise
But the jury is still out on buffalo horn combs, because if there¡¯s anything
worse than being bamboozled8, its being buffaloed.
Buffalo Horns Even a foreign barbarian
like myself can see the beauty in buffalo horn artistry. I suspect even
the buffalo itself would feel honored to have been a part of such creations.
But I¡¯m not so sure about the exalted virtues that Chinese ascribe to
buffalo combs. What¡¯s wrong with good old fashioned (by which I mean cheap)
I understand why the counter girls plug buffalo hair combs and hair pins,
but even neighbors with no vested interests insist that natural buffalo
horn is better the hair and head, and cures everything from baldness to
Still, they¡¯re beautifully crafted. And who knows¡
Lacquerware is a horse (or buffalo) of another color10,
and has long been coveted by connoisseurs and novices alike, proving that
chic fashion models aren¡¯t the only bodiless commodity in high demand.
This is Fuzhou¡¯s most famous handicraft, and
one of China¡¯s three great treasures (the other two being Beijing cloisonn¨¦
From 1898 to 1937, this most seductively delicate of all lacquer arts
won 16 gold medals in international fairs in Berlin, Paris, Tokyo and
Panama. And when you understand the difficulties and dangers of creating
lacquerware, it¡¯s no surprise that the Chinese were the first ones to
have the persistence and patience to find a way to do it (over 4,000 years
ago, some claim).
Bodiless lacquerware is built up from layers of sap from the lac tree¡ªa
substance so poisonous that tappers must armor themselves head to toe,
and afterwards wash their body in solutions to counteract the toxic effects.
But the end result of their labors epitomizes the patience of the Orient.
Epitomy of the Orient In 1933, Ms. Eunice Thomas wrote in a paper for
the Anti-Cobweb Society in Fuzhou,
¡°The number of coats put on varies from only a few to perhaps a hundred
in the case of the best gold lacquer. When you remember that each coat
takes from five to seven days to dry, you will understand why it is necessary
to wait a year for some of the finest pieces, and you will give up trying
to hurry the East, especially when the slowness of the East is due to
care and precision, and not laziness or inertia. The many materials used
to rub down the various layers of lacquer are carefully graded, beginning
with whet-stone and gradually working down to fine human hair which needs
the heat of the worker¡¯s bare hand to produce the best results¡
¡°¡®It is only the Easterner who can combine the imagination of the artist
with the technical powers and steady perseverance of the ant or the bee.¡¯
Lacquer seems to stand as the perfect exemplification of the Chinese proverb,
¡®Done Leisurely, done well.¡¯¡±
The Fuzhou Bodiless Lacquerware Factory, (Fuzhou
Di Er Tuo Tai Qi Qi Chang), on May 4th St., has been in business over
200 years and puts out more than 3,000 lacquer items, from vases, plates
and boxes to standing screens.
The Fuzhou Stone Carving Factory (Fuzhou
Shi Diao Chang), on June 1st Road, carries on the 1500 year old tradition
of carving Shou Shan stone, producing over 1,000 various products.
And now we proceed, as leisurely as a Laowai is able, to Fuzhou¡¯s
backyard and one of Fujian¡¯s great treasures,
Try these other Fuzhou sites:
Fuzhou Panda World¡ªthe only
panda research site outside of Beijing and the panda¡¯s home of Sichuan
Forest Park¡ªone of the top 20 in China. It¡¯s out of town,
so take the 945 or 811 bus.
Qing Zhen Mosque¡ªsupposedly started building in 628 AD
Fuzhou Confucian Literary Temple¡ªstarted
construction in 921 AD.
Fuzhou Municipal Museum¡ªtake 971 or 972 bus.
Linzexu Statue, on the south side of Fuzhou. It is 7.75
m high, weighs 7.3 tons, which I believe. I couldn¡¯t move it.
History (birthplace of Chinese Maritime Industry)
Island (famous "China
Pagoda," Sino-French Battle, etc.)
Haunted Nantai Island Tour (Includes old Consulates, Rotary
Club, haunted churches...)
of Fuzhou: 3 Wards & 7 Streets, Li Family House, Banyan City,
Yushan Hill and White Pagoda, Clay People, etc.
Valley of Yongtai (Fujian's Best Kept Secret)
Cuisine (Buddha Jumps the Wall Soup, Pounded Pork, Fish Balls)
was also spelled Foochow, Fuh-chau, Fuhchau, etc.
Fujian Sites Fujian
Foto Album Xiamen
by Scott Ballantyne
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