Chinese coloring-book fanatics will soon be able to decorate patterns of one of the country's most famous sites: the Forbidden City.
The sprawling former imperial complex, also known as the Palace Museum, said on its official Weibo microblog this month that it will release Color the Forbidden City in October. The move was spurred by the popular U.K. Secret Garden coloring book, which has triggered an adult coloring-book craze and has led to the peddling of similar tomes on many street corners in Beijing.
The book will have intricate patterns of famous Forbidden City architecture, including original designs from the Qing Dynasty. Architectural experts have been invited to explain each pattern in the book so readers – er, colorers – can understand the significance of what they're painting. The Museum is planning to release three editions, which will include patterns of royal clothing and jewelry, according to state media.
The announcement of the book delighted coloring fans in China. "I have been waiting to buy the coloring book for over two months," wrote one coloring fan on Weibo.
The Museum gauged interest in a coloring book by releasing three intricate black and white patterns in July, inviting the public to color their hearts out in a chance to win prizes. Within days, hundreds of people had uploaded their finished masterpieces, state media said, despite the museum's advice that the patterns may take about a week to finish if worked on at an easy pace.
One commenter who was born in 1985 displayed her finished piece of art on Weibo and said, "The last time I used a coloring book was when I was an elementary school student." Other commenters even asked the museum to invent special color pens for the edition.
Laurence King Publishing, which originally released The Secret Garden coloring book in 2013, said that 3 million of the book's nearly 7 million worldwide sales have come from China, where it debuted in June. While the real book retails for about 90 yuan on Amazon's Chinese website, 19 yuan knock-offs can be found at a variety of street stalls.
Psychologists have hailed coloring as a good relaxation technique, and some have likened it to meditation. Whatever their motivation, consumers are buying the books in droves: On Amazon, a handful of adult coloring books are among the site's top 20 sellers.