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Chinese antiques

Chinese Ceramics – Antiquity

  Bronze Age (1500-476 BC} Chinese Bronze Age pottery was mainly grey but small quantities of white pottery were produced. This “proto-porcelain” seems to have been produced almost by chance. Kaolin (the main constituent of porcelain) was relatively common and the temperature required to smelt bronze (1100 degrees C) happens to be close to the […]  Continue Reading »

Chinese Ceramics – Ming Dynasty (1368-1644)

During the Ming Dynasty, the royal family directly controlled the government pottery kilns. As a result these had the best materials and the best craftsmen. Jingdezhen became the national porcelain centre. The general characteristics of Ming porcelain are a fine-grained body, white colour tinted beige on the unglazed footring. Glazes are usually fairly thick and […]  Continue Reading »

Chinese Ceramics – Ch’ing Dynasty (1644-1912)

After the disruption of the Manchu invasion, Jingdezhen was re-established as the porcelain centre and re-organised on a production-line basis. Manufacture and decoration were separated into a number of specialist operations. Even the decoration of a single pot was split up with one man painting flowers, another trees, and so on. To achieve this, a […]  Continue Reading »

Chinese Rugs

Simplicity of design, serenity of composition, a limited range of subdued and harmonious colours, usually blue or yellow in many shades. Symbolic motifs characterise traditional Chinese rugs. Frequently recurring designs in Chinese rugs include geometrics such as the familiar meander border; animals including various dragon forms, Fu dogs, storks, cranes, butterflies, and bats; realistic flowers; […]  Continue Reading »

Chinese History & Dynasties

Shang Dynasty (1523 – 1028 BC) The earliest know historical dynasty in Bronze Age China was the Shang. The Shang were ruled by a powerful king who was also a religious leader. They worshipped natural phenomena, such as rivers, mountains and points of the compass. Sacrifices of animals and, sometimes, human prisoners of war were […]  Continue Reading »

Chinese Bronzes

Although carvings in marble, bone and jade exist, the great art of the Shang dynasty (1523 to 1028 B.C.) was that of ritual bronze vessels. These were intended to hold wine, water, grain and meat to be used in sacrificial rites. The vessels were decorated with stylised representations of animals, governed by rigid conventions. A […]  Continue Reading »

Chinese Jade

Jade, and particularly Chinese jade, can be a very difficult item to purchase wisely, unless you are an expert or deal through a reputable dealer. The confusion starts because there are actually two minerals (nephrite and jadeite) which we, in the West, call jade. These range in colour from white through brown to green, and […]  Continue Reading »

Chinese Furniture

A wide variety of miniature furniture has been found in Han Dynasty tombs. This includes chairs, tables, cupboards and chests. It is made with sophisticated, flowing lines, not unlike modern bentwood furniture. The pieces are made of rich, fine-grained hardwoods, like ebony, rosewood and sandalwood, polished to a high finish and with little, if any, […]  Continue Reading »

Chinese Ivory

The term “ivory” embraces a number of materials but usually refers to elephant or walrus tusk. These are easily worked, have a close grain, a natural lustre and a smoothness that makes them ideal for small objects. From the 10th century, China traded through the port of Ch’uan-chou with Arabs who brought ivory from Africa¬† […]  Continue Reading »

Chinese Snuff Bottles

Snuff was introduced into China early in the Ch’ing Dynasty (1600 to 1910). To keep the snuff dry and to prevent it spilling, it was contained in small bottles with a cork-ringed stopper into which a tiny spoon was fitted. The snuff was taken by spooning it onto the left thumbnail, on which it was […]  Continue Reading »

Chinese Lacquerware

Lacquer is the sap from the sumac, or lacquer, tree. It has been used in China for decorative purposes since the Han Dynasty (618 to 907 A.D.) Basically, lacquerwork is produced by applying very many coats of lacquer over a mould until the required form is created. It lends itself to a wide variety of […]  Continue Reading »

Chinese Painting

The Chinese considered painting to be the only fine art. The artist looked to the past for inspiration. Recreating past masterpieces was regarded as a worthwhile and honourable endeavour – unlike in the West, where it is regarded as forgery! Since the Sung Dynasty ((980 to 1279) landscape painting has been predominant. The characteristic style […]  Continue Reading »