What To Buy In Xi'an, China

what to buy in xian

Referred to as the birthplace of Chinese civilization, Xi'an is a beguiling travel destination in Shaanxi Province. One of the country’s most popular tourist hot spots, Xi'an offers a wide array of delights via historical sites and museums, top eateries serving fresh Cantonese delicacies and spicy Sichuan cuisines, and much more. An advanced public transit system allows you to get around town easily and biking is also a preferred means of seeing the sights. Along with all these incredible enjoyments, this town has some of the best items for sale. If you want to leave China with more in your suitcase than when you arrived, then you have to scroll down to see what to buy in Xi'an, China.

1. Folk paper-cuts

Foshan Paper cutting
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Shirtlly used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

A traditional and very popular art form in Xi'an is folk paper-cuts, also known as Chinese paper cutting. This activity has been around for centuries and it is central to festive ceremonies such as wedding celebrations and high-energy Chinese New Year observances. From well-trained artists to average homemakers, many can perform this delightful art of paper cutting. However, if you’re keen on owning an intricate and elaborate design, then look for local fork artists who can craft some of the most sophisticated cuts.

2. Tang tri-colored pottery

Sancai glazed female figurine Tang dynasty 618-907
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user John Hill used under CC BY-SA 3.0

Delicate and eye-catching, Tang tri-colored pottery is a must-have item for anyone who appreciates ancient beauty. During the rule of the Tang Dynasty, Xi’an was the capital city and Tang tri-colored pottery was a symbol of prosperity. Tang tri-colored pottery represents the intriguing cultural artifact of that time period. These fabulous replicas offer splendid colors of yellow, green, blue, and brown and feature grand-looking, brilliantly adorned horses and camels. Human figures are usually of a graceful female form.

3. Lintong persimmons pancake

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

A specialty in Xi’an, Lintong persimmons pancake consists of wheat flour, persimmons, rose petals, sugar, walnuts, and then roasted over a charcoal fire until golden brown. Usually served during the autumn and winter months, these morsels are not only tasty but also have an interesting history. In 1644 - during the Ming Dynasty - a Xi’an rebel leader named Li Zicheng attacked the capital city of Beijing with his army. Because of dire food shortages, the only item the locals could offer was Lintong persimmons pancakes. Nowadays, the locals commemorate the warrior by savoring this delicious, flavorful food.

4. Ansai peasant paintings

Editor's Note: There's no photo available at the time of writing

Ansai peasant paintings are wonderful artworks for those interested in compelling art and historical appreciation. These vibrantly colored paintings are a reflection of the everyday lives of people and are created by proud local peasants and hardworking farmers. These simple and genuine paintings showcase such images as beloved village traditions, cherished festivals, lively parades, and more. Ansai peasant paintings offer a glimpse into how the people of this region think, feel, and live. The most famed Chinese peasant paintings are located in Huxian County about 25 miles (40 kilometers) southwest of Xi’an City.

5. Yaozhou porcelain

Bowl with cut interior decoration of flowers and waves, China, Yaozhou, Shanxi province, Jin dynasty, 1115-1234 AD, stoneware with celadon glaze - Östasiatiska museet, Stockholm - DSC09636
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Daderot used under CC0

Possessing a splendid, subtle yellow-green-colored finish, Yaozhou porcelain is a dazzling example of Chinese pottery. Whether you want a pretty tea set to impress your friends when you host your next party or desire a decorative bowl adorned with elaborate and intricate design to display proudly on a credenza in your home, you can’t go wrong with Yaozhou porcelain. Once a leader in ceramics production during the Tang Dynasty, Yaozhou porcelain boasts an age-old history that ensures it’s a worthy buy.

6. Xi'an lacquerware

Red lacquerware dish, Ming Dynasty
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user PericlesofAthens used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Displaying a cool luster, Xi’an lacquerware is an awesome and ancient Chinese craft. Relishing its beauty since the Neolithic Age, Chinese locals acquired this natural resource known as lacquer from the sap of a lacquer tree - a flora indigenous to China. When the lacquer dries, artisans carve beautiful designs on the surface. Classic lacquer items manufactured in Xi’an workshops include large objects such as chairs and tables. But today, many lacquerwares consist of smaller knickknacks such as dishes, cups, trays, and lovely decorative boxes.

7. Qinqiang opera mask

Nuo Opera Mask (13942107433)
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user Gary Todd used under CC0

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Touting a 2,000-year-old history, Qinqiang Opera originated in China’s northwestern region and a Qinqiang opera mask is one of the centerpieces of this form of entertainment. With its audacious and thundering arias, Qinqiang Opera is known as “opera shouted out” and the demon-like masks add a distinct level of daring to every performance. It’s pleasing to learn that this ancient folk opera has gained popularity among younger generations over the years, ensuring this unique and traditional aspect of Chinese culture never dies off. The masks are fierce-looking souvenirs and make great decorative accents to hang on your wall.

8. Lantian jade

Source: Pexels

Photo is only for illustrative purposes

Possessing a rigidity and strength that allows it to be carved into attractive jewelry and fine decorations, Lantian jade is a popular ancient jade. Eye-catching, uneven tones of light green and yellow add to the allure of this particular jade. This ancient stone goes as far back as 4,000 years and Xi’an is known as the home of Lantian jade. Typical items made of Lantian jade include sturdy bowls, nifty pendants, gorgeous bracelets, marvelous tea sets, handsome earrings, and much more. They are ideal and easy to carry souvenirs.

9. Rubbings of the stone tablets

Xi'an May 2007 033
Source: Photo by Wikimedia Commons user G41rn8 used under CC BY-SA 4.0

Rubbings of the stone tablets are a wonderful keepsake. This city highlights over 300 stone steles with masterful calligraphies from a myriad of bygone-era dynasties such as Tang and Ming. These treasures are housed in the Forest of Stone Steles Museum, which is considered the biggest and most impressive museum of its kind. If you want to purchase a rubbing of the stone tablets as a souvenir, then an affordable option is to buy from a stall outside the museum. An unmounted rubbing sells for no more than 3 USD. If you opt for a mounted rubbing, the cost is twice as much and it takes two hours to mount the rubbing.

10. Replicas of Qin terracotta warriors and horses

Terracotta warriors
Source: Pixabay

Xi’an’s clay techniques have been around for 6,000 years and animated replicas of Qin terracotta warriors and horses have made this city world-famous. These replicas can be sold in miniature form or life-size. What is enticing about these reproductions is that every individual piece offers its own unique character! Look closely and you’ll discover different facial expressions and features, different hairstyles, various service ranks, and more. The detail is so amazing that you’ll uncover every warrior with unique body types. Qin terracotta warriors and horses are truly prized souvenirs.

Bring home a bit of Xi'an with you

If you want to dive deep into China’s ancient past, then Xi'an is the place to visit. For lasting memories of your time in the wondrous destination, you shouldn’t overlook purchasing a few items from this handy list. A stern terracotta warrior or a lovely Lantian jade tea set is just the thing to preserve an unforgettable experience in Xi'an.

Disclosure: Trip101 selects the listings in our articles independently. Some of the listings in this article contain affiliate links.

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As a child, Catherine's family took a trip to the World's Fair New Orleans and her mom asked what she wanted to see. She exclaimed, "Everything!" She's been working on that endeavor ever since.

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