Old Hangzhou was described as "West Lake plus scissors". For many Chinese people, Zhang Xiaoquan, the name of the 17th century scissors maker, is a representative of superior quality scissors. To illustrate their quality at a national quality contest in 1978, a pair of the large-size Zhang Xiaoquan household scissors cut through 50 layers of thin white cloth, snipping cleanly through the first time.
In the 10th century, Li Yu, a ruler of the Southern Tang, tried to cut off sorrow with scissors. In one of his poems, however, he wrote: "Cut, it won't sever; Be ruled, will never. What sorrow it is to part! It's an unspeakable taste in the heart."
Someone later suggested that if Li had had a pair of Zhang Xiaoquan scissors with him, things would have been better. One story has it that Emperor Qianlong of the Qing Dynasty bought a set of Zhang Xiaoquan scissors on his second visit to Hangzhou. Afterwards he sent people to Hangzhou every year to buy large numbers of Zhang Xiaoquan for use in the palace. Today the line of scissors manufactured is wide and varied. It includes household scissors, scissors for cutting cloth, scissors for industrial use, scissors for embroidery and handicrafts, scissors for surgical use, scissors for gardening, as well as shears and secateurs used in animal husbandry and agriculture. The biggest are as long as l.2 meters (4 feet), the smallest a mere 3.1 centimeters (1.22 inches) weighing a mere10 grams. Some souvenir pairs are engraved with West Lake scenes and other patterns. Beautifully shaped and with sharp blades, they are good for both practical use in and around the home, as well as a nice souvenir from Hangzhou.
Where to buy:
Name: Hangzhou Zhangxiaoquan Scissors Store (杭州张小泉剪刀店) Address: No. 255, Yan'an Road (延安路255号) Phone: 86-571-87088935 Post code: 310006 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Source: New Greater Hangzhou: A New Guide by George Chen
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