We're loving Laura Morelli's new column for Traveler's website, The Genuine Article. This month, to tie in with our China-centric issue, Laura guides us through the process of buying traditional Chinese silk. She writes:
Many travelers to China are overwhelmed by the choices for silk fabrics, garments, and smaller accessories. The number of silk shops in Shanghai and Beijing alone is staggering. For the most authentic shopping experience, head to one of the regions known for silk. The city of Suzhou, west of Shanghai, for example, developed a reputation as a silk capital because its silk-makers turned out imperial garments from the seventh to the early 20th centuries under the Tang, Song, Ming, and Qing dynasties. At the Suzhou Silk Museum, you can view silks dating back to the seventh century, and train your eye for the many silk shops and factories that lure travelers across the region.
We had no idea, for example, that the Chinese still use a "burn test" to determine whether their silks are authentic. But we think it's best to let the experts handle that, for fear of singeing your souvenirs.
Photo: Mark Thiessen/NGS