Gu broidery is the most famous among broidery styles in Shanghai with about 500 years of history under its belt. Shanghai textiles and embroidery are widely used in drawn work, machine embroidery, mandarin coat , painting products, carpet, and artistic tapestry and each has their own unique features. Carpets, most of which are woolen ones, are famous for their exquisite techniques and elegant patterns while artistic tapestries can show the real beauty of oil paintings and traditional Chinese paintings, making them the best decorations for a home.
Woolen embroidery is one of the most rapidly emerging Chinese arts and crafts. Some works are made of colored wool yarn with various color dimensions by passing a wool knitting needle on a special mesh fabric. The wool embroideries are famous and popular for reflecting the nature and themes of it domestic life and for their colorful, clear layers and vivid image style. In fact, the wool embroideries are known as “the eastern oil painting” by enthusiasts.
There are 3 main steps in the process of making woolen embroidery works:
Woolen embroidery products can be divided into 2 categories: for appreciation, and for daily use.
Shanghai has long been one of the most important manufacturing and exportation places for Chinese silks due to its geographic location and waterways. The silk products such as robes, throws, tapestries, and more are so popular among customers home and abroad because of the various categories and fine quality. In particular, the "Jing San Cup" style has become a household name for those who are interested in silk products. Jing San Cup is a flowery print silk which focuses on replicating or being influenced by traditional Chinese paintings, earning it a beloved worldwide reputation of having wonderful colors, typical features, and the latest delicate technique.
One of the most in-demand local delicacies is Chongming hairy crabs which come from Chongming Island. They have this name because of the clusters of hair on their two large pinchers. Chongming hairy crabs are on par with Shengfang crabs from Bai Yangdian and clear water crabs from Yangcheng Lake in terms of taste. However, Chongming hairy crabs have higher meat quality than those 2 other kinds of crabs. They are considered such a fine food that typically, they are served at luxury restaurants or wrapped and presented as valued gifts to loved ones for example during the annual Mid-Autumn Festival.
The yellow grass woven products from Jiading district are among the more classic arts and crafts specialties and traditional specialties in Shanghai, as well as that of local farmers. This artisanal style has been around since the Qing Dynasty and listed in 2007 as a National Intangible Cultural Heritage. Today, most women in Jiangding work in grass weaving companies and organizations that focus on continuing the survival of this art. These natural and environmentally friendly products, such as bags, bowls, cup sets, pot mats, and slippers, have been exported to areas throughout China and as well as other appreciative countries. They are distinguished by their fine lines, patterns, and cultural flavor.
Shanghai’s Jiading district is the hometown of the yellow reed grass; the material’s reputation is that it is smooth, soft, and tough at the same time, very suitable for straw raw material. The yellow straw products are both aesthetically attractive as well as lightweight for daily convenience.
Golden or silver decorations such as jewelries and adornment figures, and all kinds of metal vessels and enamel crafts comprise the main body of Shanghai's metal arts and crafts industry. The most typical products are golden or silver decorations for the home or galleries with high appreciation value due to their exquisite compositions and bodies. In terms of fashion, there is a wide array of gold and silver jewelries to choose from such as the latest styled ornaments and pieces highlighted by rare platinum or cultured pearls.
Although it may sound strange, flour sculpture is a popular and particular art that consists of using glutinous rice flour and its variable colors to pinch into various small figures. The figures are vivid and colorful, allowing them to be used in creating 3-D pictures, scenes, and silent dramas. The great master of flour sculpture art is the famous Shanghai artist Zhao Kuoming. His works enjoy a high reputation because they are free of mildew, vermin, and cracking. Even dozens of years later, his glutinous rice flour pieces look brand new.
Fermented bean curds are known as “Jinjing Tofu.” This rich and celebrated food has been enjoyed by emperors in ancient times during the dynastic eras, and it has been extremely popular for hundreds of years, renowned all over China by its population. Often, the Jinjing style is regarded as the best quality kind of fermented bean curd compared with those produced in other areas in the country. Regarding the Shanghai varieties, there are 3 main types: Red chili oil fermented bean curd, original flavor fermented bean curd, and 2-flavor fermented bean curd.
Fermented bean curds are made by deep frying pork, which is already one of the most well-known Chinese dishes. The difference which creates the unique flavors is the use of the deep fried pork seasoning with wine and soy sauce. This is then added to the fermented bean curds, which are made of fresh bean curds, chili powder, and special sauce. In total, the process requires 3 steps: baking, steaming, and burning, before this tasty food is ready serve to the customer.