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China Shanghai Travel

Shanghai Museum, Shanghai, China

Shanghai Museum in Shanghai, China, is an ancient Chinese art museum in the middle of a modern city.DSC08362

Perhaps the exterior gives you an idea of what lies inside. The grand stone and concrete museum is guarded by several large sculptures of Chinese-style creatures in a moat-slash-water feature. With lights pointed at these snow-white sculptures, they must look magnificent at night.DSC08363

The interior is simple but grand.DSC08617

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This 4 level museum has a permanent exhibition on ancient Chinese three-dimensional objects: decorative items: bronze statues, stone sculptures and carved jade creations, and functional bronze productions: wine vessels and cups, food vessels, musical instruments and weapons. There are also temporary exhibits, when I visited in July 2016, it was an exhibition of bamboo carvings and paintings.

At a glance:
-Entry: Free
-Closest metro stop: People’s Square exit
-Exhibits: Bronze, Stone and Jade carvings and metal work
-Attraction Duration: 4 hours to see and observe every thing in detail.

See more details at very end of this post.

The exhibits start on the ground floor with the ‘Bronze Age’ or sculptures made from bronze on one side of the museum, and the ‘Stone Age’ or sculptures made of stone on the other.

Initially I planned to go straight up to see the jade carvings, and did not plan on staying at the museum long as I thought bronze and stone art would not interest me, however one look at the stone and bronze section had me hooked and I did not go through the entire museum in one visit (2 hours).

I am amazed at the level of detail the ancient Chinese managed to create into materials like stone and bronze, especially by hand without precision equipment and machinery.

This is a bronze statue, created in the Song dynasty between the years AD 960 and 1279. Just look at the beads.DSC08369

This is a stone carving, called the “Thousand Face” tablet. I counted, there weren’t actually 1000 faces but the detail is incredible. It was over a metre in height and about a metre wide.

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There was an exhibit on bronze dining ware. These weren’t your every day dinner ware. There were wine vessels and jugs used to serve wine, wine cups used for drinking wine, and food vessels where large quantities of food were held. These latter ones range from small to absolutely gigantic, remember that these were all made from solid bronze. The largest one there could easily fit a one year old, or act as a bath tub for a few babies. It made me wonder what the wealthy ancient Chinese used to eat.

The larger vessels were used by the very wealthy or in palaces for banquets, whereas the wine cups were more common. Amazingly, you can actually buy one (replica of course, but faithfully realistically ancient-looking) at the gift shop, if you can carry it and have the space in your luggage or at home.

Just kidding, they have a postal service there, but you’d still need a place to store it.

Obviously it started out much more modest. This is a modestly decorated wine jug:

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This is a food vessel. Notice the acrylic label near the top left hand corner for scale.DSC08388DSC08389

Here is another wine vessel. Just look at the relief detail.DSC08395

The picture above is the one on the very right in this picture below. Here you can see a number of wine vessels.DSC08397

This is a wine cask.DSC08400DSC08401

These wine cups are much smaller.DSC08410

Close up detailDSC08412DSC08413

This is a food vessel.DSC08451DSC08452 small

There was also a display of knives, daggers and spear heads in the weapon section.

This food vessel is quite a formidable-looking object.DSC08489

The base is part of it, not just a stand. Imagine lifting one of these when empty… then filled with food. And this wasn’t even the largest one there.DSC08490

Moving on to the Jade carvings exhibit.DSC08549DSC08550

This is a title deed for a piece of land. It is probably the most permanent contract to have ever existed and fits in the palm of your hand.DSC08552DSC08554

Although I do wonder what happened to the specified land and the owner.

Look at the detail in this hair piece.DSC08547

and the detail in this belt buckle. Look at it.DSC08568DSC08569

And this one. LOOK. AT. IT.DSC08570DSC08571

JUST LOOK.DSC08572DSC08573

They sure don’t make belt buckles like these today.

And this one-piece incense burner lid. LOOK.DSC08603DSC08604

Made no later than the 14th century. BY HAND.

This is a bamboo wrist rest, part of the special exhibition, with a Chinese ink painting carved into it.DSC08535DSC08537

Attraction info:

Click here to visit the official website for more information.

Who this is for:
If you liked the photos above or you like ancient art, you would like it here. It is not too crowded. Children are welcome, there are special activities that changes throughout the year, however these seem to be in Mandarin, educational and aimed at school aged children.

Getting here:
Address:
201, Ren Min Da Dao
Huangpu District, Shanghai

In Chinese Hanyu:
上海市黄浦区人民大道201号

The museum has 2 entries, a north and a south door. The closest Metro station is actually Dashijie, exit 4 (500m), and not People’s Square metro station like the website says. People’s Square is further because its closest exit, exit 1, is very far from the platforms, and will be well over 1 km walk from the station platform. Both will get you to the south door.

Entry:
Entry is free, no tickets are required, however at peak times there will be long lines. The first time I went was at lunch and there was no line and I was in straight away. The second time I went a about 2:30, I waited over 30 minutes, which was nothing compared to the queue at the Oriental Pearl Tower. Also they have a daily limit of 8000 visitors (which usually isn’t a problem, but good to know.)

As with any attraction in Shanghai, there are security scans to scan your bag. This is one of the reasons why the line wait is made longer.

Recommended Visit Time:
If you like museums and want to see things in detail rather than just walking by, 4 hours (not including queuing time).

Facilities
Click here for a video of the museum.

Click here for my Tripadvisor review.

The museum is well equipped for all visitors.
There are children’s strollers and wheelchairs for rent, and an items storage service for things like bags or umbrellas, although I am not sure about the cost, if any.DSC08364

There is also an audio tour guide rental. Each exhibit has a unique number next to a speaker logo. You can enter this number into you audio player to hear more information about it. The Mandarin one costs ¥20 with a deposit of ¥300, and foreign languages one cost ¥40 with a deposit of ¥400, or a passport.DSC08366

There are escalators and lifts as well as stairs. There are sit-toilets available.

Gift shop
There is a gift shop available on the ground floor which is connected with but separate to the museum (connected by a door but you do not have to go through the museum to enter the gift shop. This way you can go to the gift shop without lining up to enter the museum).
The gift shop is full of non-touristy things like Chinese-art gifts; books, paintings, ink and calligraphy sets, as well as touristy things like pencils. There are also replicas of the bronze dining ware. Photos are not allowed in the gift shop, but the Ding (large food vessel) replica was super expensive, in the order of ten thousands yuan. Talk about expensive souvenirs!

Food
There is a restaurant on the ground floor, opposite the gift shop, in the lobby. This is also separate to the museum. The food is somewhat expensive, and serves Chinese and some western foods like chips, coffee and sandwiches. If you need to have food while you are visiting, I recommend you eat first then go into the museum, otherwise you will have to line up again which would be problematic if the lines are long.

Food is not allowed inside the museum, but no one will stop you from eating in the lobby.

Tea house
According to their website, they have a tea house on level 2 which, sadly, I completely failed to notice when I went. The tea house serves tea and refreshments and is decorated in traditional Chinese architectural styles with Qing dynasty style timber windows and Ming dynasty style furniture.

As with all museums, flash photography is not allowed.

They open from 9am to 5pm daily, the last entry is at 4pm.

For more things to do in Shanghai, check out my other posts here, or if you are ready to come visit Shanghai, try these affiliate links (what are affiliate links?)

Flights to Shanghai:
Jetradar.com

Accommodation options:
Hotels Combined
Booking.com

Car rental
Jetradar cars


Whether it is a flight or a hotel, international or domestic, if you travel a lot, or like my blog, or both, please bookmark this page and support my blog by using my affiliate links to make your next booking!

©All rights reserved for all content and photographs, usage on 3rd party sites are forbidden without permission. Photos are taken by author unless otherwise stated.

Categories
China Travel

Tian Zi Fang, Shanghai

DSC08527Some people aren’t fans of old architecture/laneways re-purposed into commercial spaces, but re-purposing them prevents them from being torn down and built into something that will be used the same way anyway.

These places are different to historic attractions like Wuzhen, these areas are essentially shops. If you enjoy shopping and old laneways, and are in Shanghai then have I got the place for you. Forget about the fake markets and big shopping centers, Tian Zi Fang is a cute little place that has more atmosphere than any westernised, air-conditioned shopping center (which Shanghai has LOTS of, and are large).DSC08517

In any case, let there be no mistake that this is a commercial shopping place, and not a historical attraction, so do not come here looking for history and then being disappointed. (see my tripadvisor review here).

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Tian Zi Fang 田子坊 is part of Old Shanghai (life when old Chinese buildings and bicycles were the norm, but not old enough to be ancient China).

It was first converted to shops in 1998 and consists of lane after lane of old buildings. Rather than tearing them down to make way for yet another shopping centre, this area has been converted into an arts and crafts market. If you want some unique souvenirs, it is worth coming here for a look.

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At a glance:

  • Around 200m from Dapuqiao metro stop
  • Entry: free
  • Great for a day of souvenir shopping
  • Lots of restaurants that sells Shanghai specialties
  • Public toilets available
  • Next to no public seating areas, one bench was seen outside the toilets

The laneways are lined with shops selling things like preserved leaf vein bookmarks, clay and glass bottles of perfume, sketches, handbags, wallets, silks, clothing, tea and tea sets, to more mass produced things like magnets and postcards. You won’t find any luxury brands or their imitations here, these products are artistic designs. Also available are a variety of snack foods, ice cream, drinks…

The postcards are more representative of its destination for example, sunrise over Old Shanghai, rather than just a pretty skyline slapped onto a glossy card. Some stores sell them in a pack, others, you can pick and choose a pack for a set price, and choose from photos of modern Shanghai or old shanghai, colour, sepia or black and white pictures.

Most of the stores do not allow photos, so here is a limited selection:DSC09485.jpg

These are bookmarks made from leaves, with Chinese art printed (I suspect it is printed). On the reverse side you can see the veins of the leaf.DSC09480

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The glass bottles are small bottles of perfume, and each colour has a different fragrance. The coloured bottle on the right is a glass bottle covered in clay. The clay bottles were seen in YuYuan as well. I am yet to figure out how these are made, as the designs are made from clay.DSC09473.jpg

Chinese blue ceramic design handbag. My mother’s friend, who lives in Shanghai, bought this and another bag for myself and my sister.IMG_3692

She also bought me this, which is a handcrafted ceramic decorative plaque. The design is of a Chinese opera female makeup.IMG_3724.jpg

Okay so this might not be a good souvenir, but this store stocked other slightly creepy things, like this tarantula and ceiling lamp made from (I was told and sure hope so) fake deer antlers.IMG_3712

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The store was small and dark with an assortment of things stored on the staircase, with other preserved insects, and live pet turtles. I gave the store keeper quite a fright as neither of us knew the other was there.

IMG_3710This might not make a great souvenir either, but stores like these sold portrait sketches, of celebrities or you can get one done for yourself.

Postcard specialty storeDSC08504

Food and Drink
DSC08502I was told that these were a fad and seen in Suzhou as well. Vendors here sold squeezed fruit juice in fake IV drip bags, and one shop even displayed them on a fake IV pole. I tried this one, cold freshly squeezed mango puree, and was delicious.

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I would look out for the place that sold actual squeezed fruit juice because the place I got the mango puree from, theirs seemed to be 100% actual fruit juice/puree, whereas the other ones like the one on the IV pole, seemed to be diluted with water if not also artificial (what flavour is the blue one? No idea). Other flavours/juices include watermelon and lemon.

IMG_3699There are many bars and restaurants in this area, serving international cuisine including Indian, American and Italian.

Across the street there are Chinese restaurants, serving Shanghai style food. My mother’s friend took me to eat there and I really enjoyed it. We went to The Dining Room where we had a platter of Shanghai specialties.

Tip:
A non-touristy souvenir (such as magnets, t-shirts and baseball caps) you could buy is probably the postcards depicting Old Shanghai, or the Old Shanghai facial cream that comes in small jars with Old Shanghai designs on it.

Facilities
There are free public toilets here, but next to no public seating areas. There was one bench was seen outside the toilets which I am not sure if they are squat toilets or not.

Due to the narrow lane ways, wheelchairs and strollers may have trouble fitting through, although the paved areas are all flat.

Recommended time here:
3-4 hours. If this is your first time going here, then 2 hours might be a bit tight since you have to find your way around. You can even make it a half day trip and have lunch at one of the many restaurants around here.

Getting here:
Address:
Chinese: 上海市泰康路210弄
English: 210 Taikang Road, Shanghai

The closest metro stop is Dapuqiao, about 200m away, across the road (Taikang Road). When facing the shopping center, the metro station is forwards (walking southernly). Entry is on Taikang Road (泰康路). Click here for a map.

There are multiple entries to Tian Zi Fang and each is numbered. Inside, the alley ways are arranged in perpendicular lanes. There are signs on the walls at each intersection to tell you the ‘street’ number and each shop has their shop number on the wall. If you get lost just remember the shop number.DSC08529

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Outside one of the entries is this Exchange ATM, instead of withdrawing money, you can exchange your currency. Not sure about the currencies available or the rate though.

Click here and here to see some short video clips of Tian Zi Fang.

For more things to do in Shanghai, check out my other posts here, or if you are ready to come visit Shanghai, try these affiliate links (what are affiliate links?)

Flights to Shanghai:
Jetradar.com

Accommodation options:
Hotels Combined
Booking.com

Car rental
Jetradar cars


Whether it is a flight or a hotel, international or domestic, if you travel a lot, or like my blog, or both, please bookmark this page and support my blog by using my affiliate links to make your next booking!

©All rights reserved for all content and photographs, usage on 3rd party sites are forbidden without permission. Photos are taken by author unless otherwise stated.