Tuesday, May 14, 2013

A Cultural Treasure Trove at the Beijing Antique Market

At the Antique Market in Beijing.

By Amanda Lensch
UNL Graduate Student


A musical performance in Xi'an.
The only word needed to describe the Antique Market in Beijing. It is open every day of the week, with hundreds of vendors hawking their wares in row after row of stalls filled with paintings, beads, figurines, textiles, calligraphy supplies, and the list goes on… It is so overwhelming it’s hard to know where to begin! (Think extremely large outdoor quilt show and you get the idea of what we are up against!)

As a habitual people watcher, I found this to be an extremely interesting place. The vendors are insistent in showing you their goods the second you show even the slightest bit of interest in their products. They continue to pull piece after piece out hoping to catch your eye with something. Also, you must be prepared to haggle with them! Something I have learned I am absolutely terrible at… which is why I will never purchase anything without a trusty buddy at my side! Maybe this is a skill I can learn while I’m here (like how to use chopsticks!).

The differences between our culture and theirs are certainly apparent. Waiting in lines is not a Chinese strong point, pushing to get onto the subway is a given, and they are fond of riding bikes or walking down the middle of the street. They haggle, yet are extremely welcoming and helpful. They are wonderful people to interact with.

Eventually, we went on a visual overload as there were so many wonderful textiles and other wares. It was a very cool experience.

Monday we traveled to Xi’an (pronounced she-on) where we are a part of Nebraska Week at Xi'an Jiaotong University. That night we had a banquet and reception to kick it off, with more than 50 people from Nebraska in attendance. I had no idea there would be so many Midwesterners half way around the world at the same time! Anyway, there was wonderful music supplied by both universities, once again showcasing our cultural similarities and differences.

Loving this adventure! Stay tuned…

Amanda Lensch is working on a master’s in textile history with an emphasis in quilt studies at UNL. She has a bachelor’s degree in apparel merchandising, design and production with an emphasis in museum studies and a minor in entrepreneurial studies from Iowa State University. She is a graduate assistant working in collections at the International Quilt Study Center & Museum and previously interned at the National Quilt Museum in Paducah, Ky., and Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History in Washington, D.C.

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