Another great treasure to explore! I had heard that 457 Fangbang Lu, previously known to me as ‘dull five-story building near Yu Gardens selling all the usual tourist tat’ is actually home to the fabulous and secret antique Ghost Market on weekend mornings. It’s called the Ghost Market because it sets up in the dark, around 4am, and then all the stallholders disappear before the clock strikes midday. Or maybe it’s called the Ghost Market because everything it sells once belonged to someone who is now deceased. Either way, it’s packed with amazing old finds.
The market occupies both the 4th and 5th floors. You will know when you’re in the right place, because you may be able to just make out the stallholders, with their wares displayed on blankets or newspapers spread on the creaky wooden floor, through a dense haze of smoke from hundreds of cheap ChungHwa cigarettes. There will also be a lot of loitering buyers in the stairwells, sucking back a few last dhurries before deciding what to offer the seller for that precious cicada-shaped redwood box. For sale are small antiques of all kinds – jade, porcelain, ceramics, wood carvings, prints, paintings, jewellery, and the odd fossil.
If you know your stuff, you can really pick up some bargains. If you don’t, it’s a great way to find out what you like and what you don’t, and how much you might have to pay for it. I for one, have no interest in the small jade carvings that Shanghai men spend hours poring over. And no, they’re not that kind of carving either. But I do love all the simple and elegant shapes of celadon porcelain in their various pale and subtle shades.