Hong Kong: Jade and Nuts

After making our offering of incense at Tin Hau Temple we strolled down the road to the Kansu Street Jade Market. We arrived as a number of stall holders were setting up their goods for display. Our Fodor’s guide suggested taking someone who knows about Jade, if you are as ignorant about these matters as I am. As it was, I was only in the market for some small memory of Hong Kong to take home with me, just as I had on a previous trip to Thailand where I came home with a little elephant charm. In this case I was hoping to find a really nice, simple and not expensive set of Fu Lu Shou figures. All the versions I had seen in the tourist shops were in ivory or mammoth. Neither of which I was:

  1. Prepared to encourage;
  2. Prepared to argue with NZ Customs officers over.

What I discovered was, they don’t look good in jade and often the ceramic versions aren’t that good either. So I rearranged my mind and eyes to look out for a small charm that incorporated my Chinese horoscope symbol – the Rooster. (Don’t try to guess my age – remember you could be out by 12 years and then I would be really ticked off! ;))

So we wandered up and down the aisles and aisles of offerings. There is certainly no lack of choice here. I am sure that the quality will vary considerably too, but I am not a connoisseur of these things so you will need to decide for yourself.
In some instances the workmanship was obviously not as good as others, but there is a great deal of very similar necklaces and rings and charms to choose from. They vary from the tiny to the huge, the subtle to the gaudy. I think everyone’s taste would be catered for by at least one stall holder.

The stalls are not only jade products nor only jewellery, there are other decorative items available too. In the end, it was at one of these non-jade stalls that I stopped and was enchanted. It was full of small carved animal figures. They looked like ivory, but were not. They were tagua nut carvings. And, just as you would expect there were the Chinese horoscope figures included in the melange of zoological offerings.
I was in heaven. So many cute animals, so much choice. The stall holder knew she had a sucker right there and then. Did I enter into battle over the price like I was in some warped auction room? Did I manage to get the deal of the century for my little trinket?

Hah ! Are you kidding? I couldn’t bargain my way out of a wet paper bag!

John was suitably disgusted. He couldn’t even have a go at it, since it was so obvious that I was going to have it – no matter what he said. Still this lady was one of the few who didn’t try to “sell” to us. She explained in her best English what things were and said how pretty they were, but she left it at that. Ahhh, a saleswoman who knows her audience. Just what I (the hopeless bargainer) like.

So, in the end I got my memory trinket from Hong Kong. He lives on my desk at work, hopefully attracting good fortune and good luck. I’ve taken a photograph of his especially good side, but like all good luck charms he is carrying two coins for prosperity luck on his other good side. 😉


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