One Good Gift Idea From China
Surprising as it may seem to those outside of China, finding a really nice gift at a reasonable price in mainland China is not easy. Trying to pick out one for my brother and his new bride was like paging through a Google search for “China” to find this site. Before letting you know what he and my sister (in-law) got, it might be worth it to you to know what kind of decent / normal gifts you can get from China. If you have been in China for a while, this is already painfully obvious, but here is the rundown for those who don’t know:
What You Can Get From China on the Cheap
There are many things you can buy from China at very reasonable prices, including the following:
- Fresh water pearls
- Tailored shirts & suits (although the quality varies quite a bit with tailoring)
- Counterfeit goods of many kinds – the majority of which is clothes & accessories, watches, & DVDs
- Jade of many shapes and forms
- Scrolls & Chinese art reproductions
- Mao era ‘stuff’
- Table and wall cloths – sometimes from Tibet or places like Yun’nan province
- (Please add more in the comments below to add to the list above)
- Fans, porcelein figures, and all kinds of little gifts to place in small spaces
All of the above gifts are great for friends and family, as long as the occasion is not a ‘big’ one. In that case, it takes a bit more digging to find an exceptional gift in China, like the one for my brother.
Why it’s hard to find really good gifts in China
Strange as it may seem to people who don’t live in China, not all goods made in China are sold in China. In addition to this, many brand name or relatively expensive things cost even more money in China than they do elsewhere!
The main reason for this is the huge wealth divide in China. To the percentage of people who have a lot of money in China, the higher price doesn’t really make much of a difference.
This doesn’t tell the whole story – part of the raised cost can be attributed to higher value added taxes for many mid to upper range goods in China. However, there are few sales in China for things that would have some serious price reductions from time to time in the States.
What all this means, then, is it’s hard to find a good value for a more ‘special’ kind of gift.
After worrying about it for weeks, I finally decided upon the above gift for my brother and his new wife. Silk carpets / rugs are one truly exceptional gift that you can find for less money in China than anywhere in the developed world (no doubt you can find them cheaper somewhere else in the developing world, however).
The throw rug above has special significance as well. The round and long characters ringing the outside are both ancient forms of 寿, or longevity. The round one represents a full life, with the longer one representing a long life. The second character for bat in Chinese, 蝠, has the same pronunciation as fortune, or 福, so the five bats in the middle of the rug represent five types of fortune accompanying you along and protecting you during a full life.
Your Ideas for Great, Good, and Normal Gifts from China
Please leave any suggestions you have for a reasonably priced exceptional gift from China, or other typical (more normal) gifts from China in the comments below.