Cultural and creative souvenirs sold in online store of the Palace Museum.
The gift shop is an inevitable feature of almost all tourist attractions, but one of Beijing's top sites has one that really stands out, for both the quirkiness of its products and its financial success.
The Palace Museum, otherwise known as the Forbidden City, began its creative endeavor in 2007 when it produced souvenirs for the 2008 Beijing Olympics. Over the next 10 years, the museum has produced nearly 10,000 creative cultural items featuring the imperial palace and its exhibits.
These products often cause a buzz on Chinese social networks, bring in great online sales, and offer a new perspective for people around the world to see and understand the Forbidden City and Chinese culture.
A list of the museum's produce reveals a fun approach to merchandise: cheeky luggage tags; earphones mimicking the beads worn by officials attending the royal court during the Qing Dynasty; parasol hats resembling the headgear worn by Qing ministers; and imperial fans inscribed with Emperor Yongzheng's quote "That's the kind of guy I am."
All this and far more is for sale on the Palace Museum's online store on e-commerce marketplace Taobao.
The products, which marry historical legacy with modern sensibilities and technology, bring an ancient culture closer to the general public.
"The museum designs cute souvenirs to attract more visitors to take home the culture of the Palace Museum. These items make an ancient culture more accessible to the general public," curator Shan Jixiang said.
Aside from trinkets available at the Palace Museum's physical and Taobao stores, the site has also developed apps to introduce ancient paintings and royal life. Visitors are able to learn more about the era and understand how life was like at that time.
"The Forbidden City is in the midst of transformation. We want to use the Internet and new technology to share the Forbidden City's rich cultural heritage with a broader population using creative ways. This way, young people will take more of an interest in China's traditional culture," Shan explained.
Sales of Palace Museum merchandise surpassed 1 billion yuan (150 million U.S. dollars) in 2015.