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Beijing Shopping: Liulichang

Beijing Shopping: Liulichang
Liulichang is the place for art and calligraphy shopping in Beijing

Article by Luke Hambleton

Liulichang or ‘Glazed Tile Factory’ is not a factory at all, but in fact the site of a market that specialises in antiques, books, curios, name stamps, painted fans and of course the obligatory Maoist memorabilia.

An absolute must with lovers of Chinese art and calligraphy, Liulichang has a long history of playing host to vendors of cultural items. Written accounts of Beijing from as far back as the reign of the Qianlong emperor (1736-1795) stand as proud testament to the pedigree of this art and antiques market.

One account by 18th century Beijing tourist Wu Changyuan describes a huge art, antiques and toy market in the grounds of the ‘five colour’ tile glazing factory that traditionally only ran for the Chinese New Year celebrations, from the 4th to the 17th day of the first month of the year.

The tile factory may be long gone, but the impressive market still remains, this time open all year round. Amongst all the usual little stalls selling fake antiques and Cultural Revolution kitsch, are several good quality art shops.

Here you can find everything a budding calligrapher or landscape artist would want and the assistants are usually more than willing to offer good, practical advice in varying levels of English. If you don’t fancy actually trying your hand with a brush, then a good range of both contemporary and traditional Chinese art and coffee table style art books for sale is enough to keep you busy for an afternoon.

Given the amount of choice remember, as always, to bargain. Despite at first claiming not to give discount, most shops in fact do.

Beijing Liulichang Shopping – Transport

The market is easily accessible by public transport, as it is situated 5 minutes walk south of Hepingmen station on the circle line, just west of Qianmen. When exiting Hepingmen station use exit D which brings you to the cross roads of Qianmen Xidajie and Nan Xinhua jie. Simple walk down Nan Xinhua jie going south for approximately 5 minutes until you reach the first major cross roads of pedestrian streets on either side, the market is located on both sides.

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