Silk is in such abundance in Suzhou and Hangzhou that they use it to make practically everything. Pure silk quilts & pillows (with silk stuffing), embroidery, weaved into tapestry & rugs, clothes, jewellery and Chinese knots (for ornamentation). I bought a bunch of pre-dyed silk threads from the factory as I wasn't planning on tailoring clothes. They sell raw silk threads as well, so you can bring it home to dye it to the colour of your choice.
Silk brocade is always lovely, although the look by itself is a little dated. I found 2 bags that used it in a way that looks fresh. Patchwork tote above can be zipped up and is encased in a clear vinyl cover for easy cleanups. Neon clutch with matching silk tassel made with Aventurine and dyed Jade.
Suzhou is famous for it's silk embroidery. Personally, I like the cats as they always manage to make it look fluffy. Double sided embroidery brings it to a whole other level. 1 piece of silk chiffon, 2 looks (see below). Blue-eyed kitty on 1 side and puppy on the other side. They also do it with leopards and lions or kittens with fishes. More commonly, you will find the same embroidery on both sides but in different colours.
Taihu lake freshwater pearls (see below) come in a wide variety of colours, measuring 4mm to 12mm in diameter. According to the guide, pearls were originally used by Chinese as creams and tonics (which they still do today). Less so for ornamentation. A few members in the tour group took this opportunity to buy the bigger, rarer coloured pearls to bring home to set.
ZhengXiaoQuan scissors from Hangzhou. The No.1 brand in China that is used throughout the country. Former sword makers that now make sharp scissors purported to withstand several decades of usage. I couldn't resist and bought 2; 1 specifically meant for cutting cloth (those who sew know that sharp scissors is the key) and a gold handle version.
Of course, when in China, you will always end up buying some fengshui items. A translucent Nanjing Jade Pixiu on a giant ball (see below). The most unusual and adorable carving I have come across so far.
A more common yellow jade carving of a Pixiu (see below).
Stocked up on more semi-precious stones for my jewellery making. It's much cheaper than what I would ordinarily have to pay. Below picture is of the pink jade and yellow jade necklaces I picked up at a bargain.
Nanjing Yuhua stones are well known souvenirs. It's actually a mixtures of agate & other semi-precious stones. Similar to cloud watching, the various forms inspire poems & are meant to spark the viewer's imagination. No surprise my mom and I each got our own albeit similar stones.
Another item the region is known for, are their fans. I bought a sandalwood one that perfumes the air with the musky fragrance of sandalwood as you wave it. These are quite delicate and I have broken a few before. Hence, the hard case comes in handy. I wonder how people used to transport & store them?
Chinese calligraphy brushes and decorative inkstones.
We also made a quick visit to the artists district and I got a Jin Xuan Min photograph from his Shanghai studio.