Sunday, January 10, 2010

Pan Jia Yuan

Entrance to the Panjiayuan market

Pan Jia Yuan Antiques Market (潘家园古董市场) is a fascinating place.

When we stayed in Beijing, I liked it whenever we went there, apart from the parking part (Finding a parking space nearby the market is.. challenging.)

The name is somewhat misleading because I don't believe that you can find any antiques at Pan Jia Yuan. Of course opinions differ but I think if you do buy anything at Pan Jia Yuan, pay for it as if it is not an antique. Unless you really are (or think you are) an expert.

A documentary I've once seen on National Geographic called "Faking China" illustrates my point. A museum curator from Beijing once thought he had found some greenish bronze antique pieces at Pan Jia Yuan that were national treasures and proceeded to buy them all up for the museum. Then he realized the more he bought the more there seemed to be available in the market. With deeper investigations, he found that the "national treasures" were actually made in a little workshop in the country-side.

But I digress.

Although you can't find any real antiques at Pan Jia Yuan, it is still a really fascinating place. You can find all sorts of things at Pan Jia Yuan - wooden Chinese pieces of furniture - both new and old-looking (Note I said "old-looking"), fantastic looking ceramic pieces - old and new, practical or otherwise, all kinds of paintings - traditional Chinese calligraphy, oil paintings etc, all kinds of art (embroidery pieces, sculptures, pottery etc), antique replicas (Qing vases, Ming Horses etc), lots of various jewellery (jade bangles, Chinese beads and any kind of stones you can wear, more pearls than in the South China Sea and anything you can think of), old books and magazines and oh yes, lots of trinkets... If there is any trinket you can find in China, it can be found in Pan Jia Yuan - Mao clocks, Tibetian clothes, opium pipes and anything else you can think of.

The amazing variety of things.. or junk.. on sale..

The market swings into full operation on weekends, but I think you have to go in the morning, or early afternoon, to see the market in full operation. The entire market is actually pretty big (to me) but is relatively well organised into different sections for different things.

I like going to Pan Jia Yuan just to take a look at the stuff for sale there. It's quite amazing. Of course the bargaining that people do also amazes me. The bargaining part, plus the dazzling variety of things for sale, makes the Pan Jia Yuan shopping experience a very unique one.

We have gotten a few things from Pan Jia Yuan for our home.

My favourites are a tiny little Chinese-styled bench that we use to sit on to wear our shoes and a small Chinese painting.

Our little wooden chair - the coffee cup on the left is to show the size of this bench..

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