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Sunday, May 6, 2018

If it’s fake antique furniture you’re after, you’ve come to the right place!

I’ve expounded elsewhere about what I think of the area in south east Beijing known as Gaobeidian. Contrary to what some obviously over-paid adman thought up, it most certainly is NOT “The Most Beautiful Village in Beijing”.

But if you are after getting for yourself a bit of classical Chinese-style furniture, then this is the place to come; and although furniture shops can be found right across the entire area, you would probably be best heading for “Chinese Traditional Furniture Street”… though ignore the traffic signs for it if you don’t want to end up thoroughly lost!

As a matter of fact, once you get there, the grand archway at the very start of the 2km long, 8-metre wide street tells you its name is actually “Classical Furniture Street”, though I guess that comes to the same thing when it’s translated from the original.

Here you will find 200, or 300, stores (depending on which web site you happen to believe) selling reproductions of Ming or Qing tables, opium beds, chairs, benches, stools, drums, garden ornaments or whatever.

You simply cannot find a better place in the whole of Beijing to source genuinely fake antique furniture. (They even spray or paint aging varnish on the objects in the street in full view of their customers.)

Anything that is not on display can be custom-built for you, whatever your taste. Many shops have their showrooms at the front with the workshops at the back.

beijinglandscapes.com would even have us believe that “The classic furniture markets combining tourism fields lured all the furniture fans from over ten countries. The collectors and merchants come here leading this street to be a cultural transmission land.” Well, I mean, how could you even think of resisting such a description?

Hey, you don’t even need to waste your time by going all the way to Xi’an to get yourself a terracotta warrior, since they make them and sell them here too.

Some of the furniture is, of course, better made than others. These display stands, for instance, look very nice from the opposite side of the street, but if I knew the Chinese for ‘rickety’ I’d probably over-use that adjective in this sentence. (OK it's something like 摇摇晃晃的 from what I can work out!)

This is not a place in which you need to curb your aspirations. If you want a giant pixiu, for instance, to grace your mansion, then once again this is the place to come.

Most people have slightly more modest expectations, however, and the place is crawling with dragons, lions, turtles, fish and more pixiu from which to choose.

Or perhaps you are more into having dragons curling their way around pillars. No worry. They are here by the dozen!

If, like me, you are more into IKEA stuff with which to grace your apartment, then think of this street as a massive walk-in museum of things that could have been Ming or Qing. (Mind you, beijingcopat.com leaves yu in no doubt what it thinks of that… “Ugly Western inspired furniture abound in Beijing and the city hosts the second largest IKEA in the world” it reads without even pausing for breath between the two clauses!)

As a huge number of items in Chinese museums are actually reproductions – which the curators somehow forget to tell you, then at least you won’t feel disappointed or cheated if you come to these stores simply to look around and take in the atmosphere of the good old days of China.

Getting there is relatively easy. Take the Batong line to Gaobeidian station (which is not on Line 1 as beijingrelocation.com tells you; and especially not Line 8 as beijinglandscapes.com would have you believe!). Leave from subway exit A3, walk westbound for 100 metres, then turn left and keep on walking for about 800 metres.