5 Classic Chinese Porcelain Patterns

Chinese porcelains are perfect for dining room displays. A nice Chinese vase makes a great accent piece, and a china cabinet can tie together a room with a bit of class. Porcelain with intricate patterns and colors gives a room some character, or at minimum provides a nice conversation piece. Savvy shoppers can put their knowledge of Chinese porcelains on display. However, not all pieces are well suited for all collectors. Price is a concern to most collectors, and different patterns fit better in different types of china collections. When jumping into the world of Chinese porcelain collecting, a new collector must know whether a specific piece fits in their casual dining room display or is better suited elsewhere.

Straight Porcelain

Straight PorcelainStraight porcelain is high-end export porcelain from the Malaccan Peninsula, crafter during the end of the Qing Dynasty. It was custom made for upper class homes, so the value of straights porcelain is high in comparison to many other types of china. Straight porcelain is renowned for its patterns, inspired by clothing fashions of the time, but shapes of the pieces vary widely due to their custom created nature. For example, frilled edges and other features that are otherwise unusual on Chinese porcelain are common among pieces of straight porcelain.

Imperial Quality Export
In the 1760s, porcelain factories began to take root in Europe. These factories not only competed with Chinese porcelain producer's but did so more efficiently and quickly by making use of modern technology to mass transfer engravings onto European porcelain. To combat the mass production of porcelain, the Chinese began to create imperial quality export porcelain. Imperial quality export porcelain is what most people think of when imagining Chinese porcelain. Imperial quality export patterns are usually complex scenes painted in tones of blue, surrounded by intricate borders, which are also in blues.

FitzHugh Pattern

FitzHugh Pattern Chinese porcelainThe FitzHugh pattern is a signature Chinese porcelain pattern. It consists of four monochromatic flowers in a circle alongside four monochromatic dragons. In some rare cases, a coat of arms or something similar replaces the flowers and dragons. However, the style of the pattern of a FitzHugh piece is unmistakable, due to the intricate border that surrounds the top or outer edge of most pieces.

While shopped for FitzHugh porcelain online, doublecheck pieces against other known FitzHugh items before making a purchase. Because it is one of the most well-known patterns of Chinese porcelain, many imitation FitzHugh pieces exist, so a seller might sell a fake FitzHugh for a hefty sum without either party being aware that the piece is a counterfeit.

Chinese Imari

Imari Chinese porcelainDuring the middle of the 18th century, the Japanese began exporting their own style of porcelains. The preferred Japanese pattern at the time was a five-color porcelain known as Imari. In China, as the Wung dynasty gave way to the Qing, Chinese artisans worked to find way to reclaim ground in their various trades, one of which being porcelain exports. Instead of creating new patterns to rival the Japanese Imari, the Chinese simply copied the style and created.

Chinese Imari is a collector's porcelain. Chinese Imari pieces are quite valuable, but not so much as to be out of the price range of many collectors. In addition, Chinese Imari is somewhat rare but appears to be common due to the large amount of Japanese Imari that flood some markets. As a result, owning a piece of Chinese Imari and being able to identify it as such is an important milestone for many porcelain collectors.

Famille Rose

famille rose Chinese porcelainAround the same time that Chinese Imari took hold on Chinese porcelain exports, a new porcelain pattern began to show up here and there in Chinese exports. This new style was much more intricate than any porcelains at the time, and focused primarily on flowers of many colors. This sea change in style was likely due to the newly established Qing dynasty, which ushered softer and more varied colors into most aspect of Chinese fashion at the time.

Chinese Famille rose is an ideal porcelain for novice collectors. Famille rose porcelains are inexpensive compared to other porcelain patterns as well as being considerably more plentiful than other patterns. The low price, varied appearance, and intricate designs make famille rose a better fit for a casual china display than a high value collection.

Antique Chinese Doucai Porcelain

Chinese Doucai Porcelain Chinese Antique Doucai Porcelain

When looking at any porcelain try to understand how many months or years it took to create it. I have found that at every level of society, people have been uninformed about Chinese art and its production and history. It would be wise to invest in books with large photographs of porcelain along with clear museum photos of their marks and bases. Everything I am about to write about can have an exception to it. So always try to have 3 to 4 items pointing to the item being new or old. Identification of Antique Doucai Porcelain

1. Over glaze colors containing lead (i.e. yellow, green, blue) should have some very small crazing to them.
• Red can be shinny but not glossy and should be pure red not orange.
• Newer porcelain will often contain a larger crackle then the old.
• Qing over-glaze colors will be pure and clean, Ming can have black flecks in them.
• Over glaze colors can have an oily iridescence look on the surface, especially green as seen from an acute angle.

2. Foot rims can have a light brownish red color on unglazed areas (iron foot).

3. Foot rim walls can be non-concentric from outside wall to inside wall. Thicker on one side or look off-center which was caused from the kick wheel.
• Usually Ming foot rims are more flat where Qing foot rims are more rounded.
• Although any Imperial porcelain from any period can have a flat foot-rim.

4. The center of bases should have a protrusion (nipple) on the top and on or the bottom of porcelain that was made on the kick wheel. Obvious side seams have been faked on many pieces, although Blanc De Chine wares can be molded.

5. When seen through a powerful light thin porcelain should look dirty and cloudy, not pure white or transparent.

6. Doucai porcelain should look professionally painted and have soft but vibrant colors.
• Blue should be soft and blue.
• Red should be red not orange.
• Yellow should be yellow.
• Greens can shade several hues and look oily.
• Over glaze color should stay close inside the underglaze blue outlines.
• Porcelain can be as thin as 1 millimeter thick.

7. Porcelain should be of the highest quality without cracks.
• Early porcelain appears glassier at the foot rim from high quartz or silica content.
• B.Newer porcelain foot rims look chalky and opaque.

8. Glazes will contain a variety of large and small bubbles easily seen by the under glaze blue areas.
• Ancient glazes will have a variety of bubble sizes and especially very large random solitary bubbles.
• Newer glazes usually have small consistently sized bubbles throughout.

9. Porcelain should have an overall beauty and look of being made by a professional artist. If you think you could make it, then it’s not Imperial.
• Any part of the design that looks rushed or poorly painted will point to the porcelain being new.
• Always look for that part of the design that looks out of place or sloppy, every line should look correct and proper.

10. Ancient porcelain rings like a bell for a long period of time when tapped. The sound can appear to be running in circles.

11. Most Imperial porcelain will have some type of defect that caused it to be rejected for Imperial use.
• dragons missing toes, missing scales, missing whiskers.
• Firing cracks or massive warping.
• Misfired colors either under-fired or over-fired
• Glaze losses, dripping or running, chipping or unintended crackle, iron spots.
• Any mark appearing poorly written or flawed in any way.

12. Mark styles should be compared to similar known examples that exist on pieces in museums
• Archaic marks are usually written on old porcelains imitating an even older style.
• Marks should match the time period, often a mark will have one stroke changed that points to a newer period or a fake. It may still be an old porcelain but not of the period.
• Marks were written by professionals and should look that way.

13. Old porcelain can feel slippery or waxy to the touch.

14. The handles and finials will be very finely finished on old wares, not just a lump of clay for a figure.

15. One more item, even a high quality brand new handmade and hand painted Chinese porcelain imitating an old can be expensive because of the time and expertise it took to create it. Look for beautiful colored and painted items.

Avoid T/L testing of porcelains if at all possible. High fired porcelain along with X-rays has really destroyed the ability to test some old porcelain. You are left with the possibly of an antique porcelain with drill holes which render it almost worthless, along with the loss of the cost of testing and time involved.


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An Overview of Buying Chinese Antiques

chinese antiques

Chinese antiques are really alluring to individuals from all over the world. Chinese history is exceptionally culturally rich, and the items from its history display this rather well, triggering many individuals from all walks of life to look for these valuable antiques. While some individuals are collectors of Chinese antiques, others just desire a few products for the visual value that they can add to someone's home. No matter why a buyer desires Chinese antiques, something's for particular: he or she wants something that is authentic and real.

Due to the fact that of this, it's very important for buyers to do cautious research when purchasing an item referred to as a "Chinese antique." It is necessary to realize that not all products marked as such are authentic; buyers will for that reason have to work out care when making buying choices. The following guide is planned to help users discover the authentic Chinese antiques, whilst avoiding the phony items.

History of Chinese Antiques

China is one of the oldest civilizations in the world, with ancient writings placing its start around 1,300 B.C., while historical findings have hinted that it dates back even additionally to in between 2,500 B.C. and 2,000 B.C. While there are a variety of ancient civilizations, China is particularly of interest since it has an unbroken history from its origins as much as the present age, with voluminous documentation assuring this. Due to the fact that China has an unbroken history of in between 3,000 and 4,000 years, the variety of Chinese antiques is enormous. Chinese custom is really rich and chock-full of art and design, which has actually allowed for countless types of antiques to emerge. Today, there are antiques offered from a variety of dynasties, most especially the Republican politician (1912 - 1949), Qing (1644 - 1912), Ming (1368 - 1644), and Yuan dynasty.

Exactly what Makes Something an Antique?

While there isn't an exact meaning of what makes something "antique," there are nevertheless accepted guidelines that collectors and buyers tend to follow. Usually, a product is ruled out a Chinese antique unless it dates to the Republican dynasty or earlier. However, even this definition isn't really quite as specific as one may believe, as there is no complete consensus regarding the cultural end of the Republican dynasty. Collectors usually see anything prior to the 1930s as "antique," and anything post 1930s as "vintage." Moreover, there's likewise a basic difference drawn between a product being "antique" and a product being "ancient." Products that date prior to A.D. 1260 are usually considered ancient, and are incredibly tough to come across.

Determining the Credibility of Chinese Antiques

When a purchaser is examining a certain product in order to determine its credibility, he or she must verify the following claims: the geographical authenticity and the historic authenticity. The former referring to fact that a Chinese antique must, naturally, be of Chinese origin and the latter referring to the precision of the date that the piece is given.

Steps Towards Authentication of Chinese Antiques

In order to figure out the authenticity of an antique, a purchaser should typically speak with a professional to get a proper appraisal. Without an expert's viewpoint, a user will be delegated his or her own devices when attempting to figure out the value of a certain product. While the Web can be a wealth of information about Chinese antiques, a purchaser can't solely depend on discussion forums and e-books, particularly if the buyer is thinking about buying a rather expensive item.
If a buyer is buying a product from a traditional expert auction home, the product has most likely currently been verified. Nevertheless, if a purchaser is browsing to buy an item from a more unregulated source, it's advised that she or he takes extra preventative measures by having a 3rd party verify the item, or carefully examining evaluations of the seller in question.

The Difficulties in Getting Genuine Chinese Antiques

Unfortunately, it's not extremely easy to obtain authentic Chinese antiques, specifically old ones. This is certainly not to say that it's not possible, just that a large amount of care and study is required prior to buying decision.

Laws Governing Chinese Antiques

To begin with, there are in fact a variety of laws in China that restrict the exportation of Chinese antiques. It is prohibited for anybody in individuals’ Republic of China and the Taiwan Republic of China to export a Chinese antique that dates earlier than completion of the Qing dynasty (1911). This indicates that if a purchaser discovers an antiquarian found in China whose selling products dating prior to 1911, that seller is either breaking the law, or tricking the buyer.
This indicates that buyers need to always do their study to learn where precisely an item is being shipped from. Also, it is actually illegal in the U.S. to import an item from China that is more than 250 years of ages; buyers are for that reason advised to proceed with excellent care when making acquiring decisions.

Legal antiques from China (those dating after 1911) will certainly have a red wax assessment seal on them. This seal is called a "jianding," and if an item lacks this seal, it hasn't legally been gotten rid of from China. Keep in mind that this only puts on items being delivered from China straight, as Western dealers might have gotten rid of the seals after receiving the items themselves.

Phony Chinese Antiques

Unfortunately, since many individuals have an interest in Chinese antiques, and want to pay a lot of cash for them, there are numerous fake items in circulation. It is for that reason very important to have actually an item examined if the seller has not already established him or herself as a reliable antique dealer. Lots of items have indications of age that can be looked for, along with markings, however these can be faked and therefore have to be very carefully examined.

Reproductions of Chinese Antiques

It's likewise important to keep an eye out for reproductions. Recreations might look convincing, but need to not be puzzled with authentic antique products. That being stated, if someone is solely thinking about the aesthetic value of the products, recreations might be a reasonable selection, as they are a large amount more affordable than genuine antiques. A lot of reproductions must be clearly marked as such for both ethical and legal factors.

Value of Chinese Antiques

Chinese antiques can significantly differ in value, and the same can be stated of most antique products. Generally speaking, antiques are applicable to the concepts of supply and need, and it actually depends upon exactly what the product deserves to the seller, and what the item is worth to the purchaser. That being stated, there are numerous things that can influence the value of the antique, most significantly the rarity and condition of the antique in concern. The item likewise plays a huge duty in the value, along with the visual value and other subjective factors.

Searching for Chinese Antiques

When searching for Chinese antiques, buyers can either go shopping offline or online. When shopping offline, buyers can go to auction houses and antique dealers for high-end items, and can visit used shops, flea markets, as well as yard sale for more low-cost items. If a purchaser is going shopping online, he or she can see a shop specifically geared to Chinese antiques, or can check out an online auction house like eBay. No matter which venue or technique a buyer picks when buying Chinese antiques, she or he need to constantly beware and mindful when making a purchasing choice, specifically when dealing with more pricey products.

Purchasing Chinese Antiques

As soon as you prepare to start searching online for Chinese antiques, you can check out the Asian Antiques Shop at http://www.asianantiquesshop.com and from the menu on the left click on China to view antiques that are particularly from China. There are lots of classifications to choose from, consisting of masks, furnishings, precious jewelry, vases, incense burners, and much more. There are both "purchase it now" items and traditional auction-style items that you can place a quote on.
See to it to check where the item is being delivered from to ensure that the item is legal. Likewise, don't think twice to get in touch with the seller if you have any concerns about the antique or its credibility. In addition, if you are still uncertain, you can inspect the seller's feedback from other purchasers, which might assure you as to the item's origins and credibility.


Buying Chinese antiques requires a great deal of research and diligence, but is a very gratifying process. Chinese history has produced numerous lovely items that teem with culture and tradition, causing people from all over the world to desire them. By doing a bit of study, buyers can find items that are authentic and spectacular, and can concern buying choices about their collectables or decors. An excellent place to learn more about Chinese antiques and Eastern Antiques in general is Asian Antiques at http://www.asianantiquebargains.com.

Japanese Kutani ware

Japanese Kutani ware porcelain

Kutani ware dates to the Edo period (circa 1655). Kutani means Nine Valleys in the Kaga province. The production of these fine decorative ceramics was enhanced when magnetite was discovered in a gold mine in the Kutani village region (near the city of Kaga, Japan). Kutani had high quality clay and the area became a good source for pottery production. The name of this pottery comes from a town called Kutani, located in the Ishikawa prefecture in northern Japan.
Kutani ware

History of Katani ware porcelains

Kutani ware china mark
The production of such wares dates back to the end of 16th century when Korean potters were brought over from Korea to make tea sets for the famed ceremonial tea ceremonies. A kiln was built and sustained in Kutani from circa 1655 to 1730 and the pottery produced during that time was called Kokutani. In 1730, the production facility was closed. The Kutani kiln was reestablished in the 1820s and Kutani ware was once again produced and distributed. During the Meiji era (circa 1868), significant amounts of Kutani ware was exported to foreign countries.

Recognizing Kutani ware

Kutani ware china plate
Kokutani wares of hand painted Japanese porcelain are highly desirable and sought after. They became popular for their highly detailed and complicated painted decoration as well as their gold appearance. Five main colors are used in the production of Kutani wares: green, yellow, red, purple and deep blue. Styles vary such as the Mokubei style which shows a Chinese influence, Yoshidaya is best known for its vibrant blue color, Iidaya highlights detailed imagery in red, Eiraku features gold pictures, and Shoza style is characterized by its gold coloring on a base of red imagery.

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Moriage ware

About Moriage ware

moriage ware
Moriage pieces show the American and European interest in Orientalism in the late 1800s. Typically moriage pieces are hand painted and gilded with gold leaf. These pieces are typical of the objects found in a Victorian home.

Unmarked Moriage ware

Moriage is usually unmarked. So, most people figure if it isn't marked, it isn't valuable! Well, that is dead WRONG!

Time and time again, I watch these antique shows on TV with self-proclaimed experts misidentify unmarked ceramic pieces. If I can identify the piece from my seat in front of the TV set just knowing the basic indicators like form and clay color, shouldn't they know what they have right in front of them?

History and Methods of Moriage ware

China was known by the generic name of Paris because Old Paris or Paris wares were made in several Parisian factories during the 18th and 19th centuries. The items made of Paris (porcelain, yet called china or Paris) were decorated with floral bouquets, raised banding or wet slipware applications. Japanese ceramic wares called moriage were pieces decorated with applied slipware designs.

Several methods were used to achieve the highly identifiable relief effect best known to moriage. The decorative elements were designed separate from the body of the piece and applied to the existing piece or carefully piped on in narrow ribbons of clay after the body was made. The piece's designs could have been "slip-trailed" or built up by the act of brushing on successive layers of liquified slip (wet clay) to gain the desired effect.

Highly stylized flowers, variations of pastel colors, gilding or gold paint, and applied slip decorations are all characteristics of moriage pieces. The moriage style indicates that the piece referenced the late 19th century interest in Japonisme and the worldwide decorative art interest in exotic designs.

Values for Moriage ware

To provide a general idea of value, depending on several factors some of which are condition and age, a 10 inch high vase in the moriage style may range from $250 to $2,500. This is just for a basic piece. If you have a major piece of moriage, you are sitting on big bucks. As I have seen at my antiques appraisal events worldwide, many of you have moriage pieces sitting in your home. Make sure you know those values before you throw away that ugly vase!

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Famille Rose Porcelain

by Irv Graham
famille rose porcelain

History of Famille Rose and Famille Verte Porcelain

The Qing Dynasty (1644–1912) was a golden period for Chinese ceramics. Famille verte, brightly colored and translucent with a color scheme based on different shades of green combined with tones of red, blue and yellow, was introduced at the start of the 18th century. It declined in popularity after the Kangxi period (1662–1722), when famille rose, with a more opaque palette of pink and rose hues, became the dominant production. Today, both are in demand among collectors. Famille rose enamels were introduced during the reign of the Emperor Kangxi, who in 1683 restored Jingdezhen, the center of Chinese porcelain production that had been destroyed during the Qing defeat of the Ming Dynasty earlier in the century. In the Yongzheng period (1723–35) famille rose developed with the addition of a pink, derived from colloidal gold (particles of gold suspended in a fluid), which was used in a wide spectrum of tones. An opaque white lead-arsenic pigment was mixed with the colors to modify them, enabling the painter to achieve a subtle range of graduated color values.

“The Chinese could make porcelain before we could in the West,” says Clemens Vanderven, owner of Vanderven & Vanderven in The Netherlands, “but Westerners made enamel as far back as Roman times.” Many attribute the Chinese use of the famille rose palette to the Jesuit missionaries who came to the court in the early 18th century. That the pink enamels were called “foreign colors” supports that notion. Once established, famille rose became dominant, and the finest pieces are those of the Yongzheng period made in imperial kilns at Jingdezhen for the exclusive use of the emperor and his court.

There are two distinct markets for famille rose and famille verte porcelain. Although they it made chiefly for export, a smaller portion was made for the Chinese court, and these are bought primarily by Chinese collectors. The export ware has traditionally been favored by Westerners, who were affected by the recession more than their counterparts in Asia. “The export market is just coming back,” says dealer Michael Cohen, co-owner of Cohen & Cohen, which is based in Surrey, England. “The top of the market remains strong and the lower market has been in the doldrums, but it is picking up.” Cohen was the under bidder on a pair of 18th-century Chinese export famille rose pheasants that fetched £200,600 ($328,000) from a European collector at Plymouth Auction Rooms in England on Nov. 4, soaring far beyond their modest estimate of £800–1,000. Despite being damaged—one beak had been rebuilt and one tail was broken—the birds attracted bidders from Belgium, France, Portugal and England.

The prices for export wares are stable, says Vanderven, adding that there have been changes in fashion. “Series of 12 or 24 plates are out of fashion,” he says. “The taste today is more for objects such as vases.” What is in demand now, according to Christina Prescott-Walker, head of the Chinese works of art department at Sotheby’s New York, are figural pieces and armorial wares, as well as rare American pieces with good historic provenance. The auction house’s upcoming sale of the collection of the late great Chinese export porcelain dealer Elinor Gordon on Jan. 23 has famille rose pieces with estimates ranging from $800 to $20,000. “Most of the pieces were made for the European market,” Prescott-Walker says.

The biggest change in the market in recent years is that Asian collectors, who used to shun export ware, are buying it in increasing numbers. “Good famille rose porcelain is attracting Chinese buyers,” says Cohen, “even if it was made for export, just as long as it is in the Chinese taste.” For example, he explains that the Chinese like designs without borders, which Europeans prefer. They also like figural pieces. “Famille rose and famille verte pieces in Chinese taste are screaming ahead,” says Conor Mahoney, co-owner of The Chinese Porcelain Company in New York. “Any piece that follows a European silver shape is definitely not for the Asian market.”

“We sell export porcelain to buyers from China, Singapore and Vietnam,” says dealer Jorge Welsh, who has galleries in London and Lisbon. “Every year we see an increase in Asians buying. I have sold armorials and porcelain with religious subjects to China. The growth has started gradually, and I predict it will be very strong in the next five to 10 years.”

Famille verte and early famille rose pieces cross between Western and Chinese buyers, says Becky MacGuire, senior specialist for Chinese export art at Christie’s New York. “The dividing line between Kangxi export ware and earlier 17th-century pieces made for the Chinese market is not as strong as it became later,” she says. All of the great English country house pieces—garnitures, large chargers, jardinières—were brought back to Europe but were not necessarily made for export.” MacGuire says she finds that the Chinese “are drawn to pristine and very good quality enameling in the early periods. They are not interested in silly, charming or amusing export ware with historical associations.”

Emperor Yongzheng, fourth son of Kangxi, “was extremely refined,” says Vanderven. “At the top end of famille rose, it is hard to tell whether it was court taste or the height of European taste. Since we are discovering more pieces in storage rooms in Taipei from the Imperial collections, we are now discovering that they had pieces that we always thought were exclusively export.”

The famille rose and famille verte pieces that were made for the court and not for export are fetching the highest prices today. Imperial pieces sold very well at Christie’s sale in New York on Sept. 15: A pair of late-Qing famille rose vases with seal marks of the Emperor Daoguang and of the period soared over its $60,000–80,000 estimate to sell to Joseph Chan Fine Art of Hong Kong for $902,500, and an unusually large famille verte charger, Kangxi mark and period, sold to Littleton & Hennessey Asian Art of London for $722,000 (est. $200,000–300,000). In the same sale a Yongzheng Imperial famille rose “Mille Fleurs” bowl sold for $314,500 to an Asian buyer, against an estimate of $12,000–18,000. Asked about the discrepancy between the estimate and the price, Tina Zonars, Christie’s international director of Chinese works of art, said that the piece was “completely broken in half but very rare. As a perfect piece it would have fetched $1 million.” On Oct. 9 at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, a rare famille rose celadon-ground butterfly vase, Qianlong mark and period (1736–95), brought $HK21.4 million ($2.8 million), over an estimate of $HK12–15 million.

“For the last 10 years,” says Cohen, “the market for Qing imperial porcelain has been the hottest thing for Chinese buyers. Important famille rose makes huge prices.” For example, an Imperial famille rose vase that was consigned by Gordon Getty was sold at Sotheby’s New York on Sept. 16 for $902,500 (est. $250,000–350,000). The vase was made at the Imperial kilns at Jingdezhen. “It has always been the case that Imperial pieces brought higher prices,” says Prescott-Walker, “but now the market is driven by the Chinese, although it is still international.”

“Famille rose has gone extremely high,” says New York dealer Mustafa Hassan, owner of Imperial Oriental Art. “When the mainland Chinese came to the market, they paid top dollar for 18th-century famille rose, and it won’t stop. They especially like vases, even if they are damaged, just as long as they have an Imperial mark, because not many exist with a reign mark. Prices start from close to $250,000 and go up to $19.5 million; the record price paid was for a 6-inch famille rose bowl at Christie’s Hong Kong.” The bowl came from the collection of Robert Chang, a Chinese art collector and dealer, and sold in Hong Kong in November 2004 for $HK151.3 million ($19.6 million). Known as the “swallows bowl” for its depiction of a pair of those birds, the Qianlong mark-and-period bowl once belonged to Woolworth heiress Barbara Hutton and is similar to one in the famous collection of the Perceval David Foundation in London. The buyer was Dr. Alice Cheng, Robert Chang’s sister.

The market for famille rose is poised to rise even higher. “The competition is great right now,” says Hassan. “Americans and Europeans cannot compete with the Chinese for famille rose, although they might have a chance when it comes to famille verte. Many more Chinese buyers will come on the market. They do not buy only as a collecting hobby but also as an investment. They will buy a piece for $1 million, hold it for two or three years, and put it on the market for double the price, and most of the time they will get it. As one of the Hong Kong dealers recently said, ‘This is only the tip of the iceberg.’”

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Chinese Huanghuali Furniture Gets Attention

What is Chinese Huanghuali Furniture?

Huanghuali furniture, the term in Chinese furniture literally means "yellow flowering pear wood furniture". Huanghuali is a member of the rosewood family and is botanically classified as Dalbergia odorifera. In pre-modern times the wood was known as huali or hualu. The modifier huang (yellowish-brown) was added in the early twentieth century to describe old huali wood whose surfaces had mellowed to a yellowish tone due to long exposure to light.

The best Chinese huanghuli furniture was made during Mid Ming dynasty and late Qianlong Emperor of Qing dynasty. It was exclusively used by the imperial family, and the awarded officials. Only highly-skilled craftsmen were allowed to make furniture from the wood. It is also difficult to find large pieces of the Huanghuali, because the tree trunk often curls and twists as it grows. Therefore, furniture made from a single large piece of the wood is rare.

Huanghuali is a slow-growing tree. A twelve-inch trunk takes about 100 years to grow. Since mid Qing dynasty, the materials of huanghuali became less and less to almost disappear. So till now, we can hardly see furniture made of huanghuali and few huanghuali furniture left. Because of its rarity and quality, huanghuali furniture is one of the most precious and expensive furniture.

The color of Huanghuali wood is perfect – neither too subdued nor too showy and its grain is beautiful. It is always used as bed, table and chair. But today it is hard to see one piece of late time or present replica huanghuali furniture. This throne chair below is a rare collection from furniture-cn, which was displayed in the 23rd International Famous Furniture Fair.
chinese huanghuali furniture

Chinese Huanghuali furniture has long had its fans. Collectors have prized its color, its scent and its distinctive grain—not to mention the simple elegance of the designs crafted by Chinese artisans.

But now it’s finally getting a seat at the big table, so to speak, being recognized by the National Museum of China as worthy of a bit more attention with its own display alongside the museum’s more celebrated ancient bronze ware, paintings and porcelain.

A special exhibit with about 100 furniture pieces gathered from the museum’s own collection and elsewhere around China opened in September and is likely to be on view for well into the new year, according to museum officials.
huanghuali furniture
A late Ming Dynasty huanghuali wood mirror stand. —The National Museum of China

“We started work on this exhibit in 2005,” said Xie Xiaoquan, director of the collection department of the National Museum. “We thought people should know a little more about this part of our culture.”

Huanghuali—or “yellow flowering pear”—is a type of rosewood. It is classified as Dalbergia odorifera, and was particularly prized in furniture of the Ming dynasty (1368-1644) and early years of the Qing (1644-1912).

The exhibit has assembled some stunning pieces—such as a late Ming geshan, or paneled screen room divider, as well as a Ming dynasty mirror stand with screens and a carved “kirin” dragon motif. And museum officials point to a wood barbecue table from the Qing dynasty as a one-of-a-kind piece.

Furniture may not have the drawing power of some of the other art forms, and it certainly hasn’t gained the same kind of attention from art critics. But as a familiar feature around the home it may resonate with more of the people who come through the museum’s doors.

Its inclusion may also signify that the museum—which itself underwent a major facelift before reopening in 2011—has more space and some new things to say.

“We wanted to make our exhibition a platform to let collectors and others see the best Ming and Qing furniture,” said Zhang Dexiang, a specialist in Chinese furniture and a consultant with the National Museum of China. “Chinese are more confident of their own culture now, and it is a definition of ourselves.”

Then too there may be some other reasons—among them the growing interest of auction houses.

In 1996, Christie’s held a major sale of Chinese furniture in New York. More than 100 tables, chairs, screens, boxes and cabinets from the Ming and Qing dynasties were put up for auction, setting sales records and sending a clear signal of the strength of the market.

More recently, Guardian auction house sold a Ming huanghuali table in November for more than five million yuan ($833,000).

An early Qing Dynasty huanghuali wood barbecue table. —The National Museum of China
Auction successes mean more public attention—and that in turn translates into greater public interest.

“They are objects for appreciation, providing cultural pleasure for daily life, and combining aesthetic value and practical functions,” said Qiao Hao, director of Chinese works of art with Guardian auction house.

The interest in the West in Chinese furniture has no doubt played a role in building a new following in Asia, according to people in the business. But the market is more reliant on a Chinese audience.

“Chinese are the key players in collecting and showing Chinese furniture these days,” said Feng Langquan, an agent in the classical furniture business. “But both Westerners and Chinese enjoy the beauty of huanghuali.”

Knock on wood, the museum will have more room to spare for this aspect of Chinese culture in the future.

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Celebrating the Year of the Horse

The Year of the Horse

Chinese Zodiac Horse
Meaning of Year of the Horse 2014

According to the Chinese calendar, when it comes to fortune, 2014 would be a better year for those people who were born under The Year of the Horse. The previous years on the life of a Horse might be filled with financial struggles and love life issues, but as for 2014, some things will change on his life. If the Horse will become financially independent, his money situation will become better and better. Horses are naturally lucky when it comes to money resources and career. All that is needed is for him to do is to rightly manage some aspects in his life.

As shown on the Chinese zodiac calendar, 2014 is the year where Horses will be prone to health issues specifically those conditions that target the lungs. They are more likely be involve on accidents too. To counteract such bad luck, Horses are suggested to donate blood.

Year of the Horse 2014 As for clothing, the lucky colors to wear this year are purple, blue and grey. To add up luck, you can wear wooden pendants or beads along with your stylish get ups. Horses lucky numbers are 7,3,2.

Horse people are energetic, intelligent and are commonly physically strong. They like to stay at peaceful places. They are very good when it comes to communicating with other people around them, thus making them sociable and they are quite friendly too. Horses love crowded places as well as entertainment. Because of the Horse natural friendly characteristic, he is loved by many.

An individual who is born under the Year of the Horse loves to be involved on charity events and is always wanting to build his own humanitarian projects. He also likes to venture on career. He does not want to stay working with one company for a long time yet, he will serve his bosses with all his best. On making life decisions, the Horse could be stubborn yet they also have their own earthy sides.


Occupying the 7th position on the Chinese Zodiac, the Horse symbolizes such character traits as strength, energy, and an outgoing nature. Extremely animated, Horses thrive when they’re the center of attention. Always in search of a good time, Horses keep the crowds happy with their humor and their wit.

Horses are extremely intelligent so they’re able to grasp new subjects with ease. They’re also capable of multi-tasking however they don’t always finish what they start because they’re forever chasing the next opportunity. Horses are honest, friendly and open-minded. They’re perhaps a bit too centered on themselves and have been known to throw tantrums when situations don’t go their way.


Horses are very healthy, most likely because they maintain a positive outlook on life and because they’re athletic. Lead Horses to wide, open spaces and watch them run free! Horses will usually only feel ill when they’re trapped inside.


Horses enjoy positions in which they can interact with others. They aren’t fond of taking orders and they’ll run from jobs they consider routine. They’re able to grasp new subjects with ease making them capable of handling most any job. They’re effective communicators and they enjoy power. Good career choices for Horses include: publicist, sales representative, journalist, language instructor, translator, bartender, performer, tour operator, librarian or pilot.

Horses and the 5 elements

Metal Horse – Years 1930 and 1990

Free-spirited in every sense of the word, commitment is the easiest way to scare Metal Horses away. They prefer jumping from one relationship or job to the next. Because of this, Metal Horses make better friends than partners.

Water Horses – Years 1942 and 2002

Adaptable yet indecisive, Water Horses have a tendency to flow like the current. They have trouble making up their minds and as a result, they always seem to be confusing others. And although this behavior can be frustrating, Water Horses are fun to be around so most people just get used to it.

Wood Horses – Years 1954 and 2014

Stable and strong, Wood Horses are better able to make decisions. They interact well with others; a trait that enables them to have more successful personal and professional relationships.

Fire Horses – Years 1906 and 1966

The fire is always burning inside Fire Horses. They love living on the edge and are always ready for change as change always is more interesting. They are incredibly opinionated and one place you’ll never find Fire Horses is standing on the fence.

Earth Horses – Years 1918 and 1978

Earth Horses will work to meet their goals, no matter how long it takes. They’ve got the ability to view situations from all perspectives and this ability is especially useful when it comes to making decisions. They’re very adaptable and they’re funny too.
Persons born within these date ranges can be said to have been born in the "Year of the Horse," while also bearing the following elemental sign:

Start Date End Date Heavenly Branch
25 January 1906 12 February 1907 Fire Horse
11 February 1918 31 January 1919 Earth Horse
30 January 1930 16 February 1931 Metal Horse
15 February 1942 4 February 1943 Water Horse
3 February 1954 23 February 1955 Wood Horse
21 January 1966 8 February 1967 Fire Horse
7 February 1978 27 January 1979 Earth Horse
27 January 1990 14 February 1991 Metal Horse
12 February 2002 31 January 2003 Water Horse
31 January 2014 18 February 2015 Wood Horse
17 February 2026 5 February 2027 Fire Horse
4 February 2038 23 January 2039 Earth Horse

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Discovering the Beauty of Japanese Scroll Paintings

japanese scroll painting

My discovery of the rich art form that is Japanese scroll painting occurred in idle moments spent on the web at the height of the Great Financial Crisis. It was a bit of self-prescribed R & R between trying to make sense of the not so brave new world of derivatives and credit default swaps and wondering how to explain it to my students in an International Political Economy course. Looking randomly at Asian antiques, I hit upon these scrolls whose abundance was matched by high quality. Thus began a minor addiction. What I found was less Zen disengagement than a humanism pervading seemingly every aspect of life and society.
Japanese scroll painting is at once commonplace and exotic. Commonplace due to the profusion of banalized, rough silk pictures that flooded the United States during and immediately after the post-war occupation. Driven by the demand from hordes of untutored foreign buyers, and the dire financial pressures suffered by artists, that historic transaction sounded the dead knell for a rich artistic tradition deeply rooted in Japanese society. Exotic because there has been slim interest in this expression of national sensibility. Whereas the woodblocks of Hokusai and Hiroshige have been staples of the artistic commerce between Asia and the West, there was never comparable attention paid scroll painting. A few names from the 18th and 17th centuries, like Kano and Gessen, may resonate among the cognoscenti, but that is about it.

One explanation for this phenomenon is that Japanese pictorial art has been relegated to the status of a derivative offshoot of superior Chinese creative works. The strong Chinese influence certainly is there - thematically and in terms of form and technique. The condescending judgment is a gross distortion of reality, though, that implicitly disparages the superb, distinctive qualities of scroll painting in Japan. Indeed, one can argue that the genre there exhibited greater vitality and originality in the period from 1750 until 1940. A perusal of any representative sample makes its fine qualities abundantly clear.

Scroll painting subjects fall into four rough categories: nature; historical personages and events; religion; and workaday or domestic scenes. The first reflects that deep association Japanese have felt with nature from early times. Landscapes of lofty mountains, most familiar to Westerners, are prominent. That has given the generic name sansui (mountain/river) to the whole sub-category of outdoor settings. Finely detailed renderings of birds, often perched on trees and shrugs, are another aspect of nature subjects. Notable persons and tales, the latter often allegorical, compose the second category. They tend toward some stylization, to varying degrees, in the visual depiction and telling. The figures are not necessarily heroic, e.g. a popular figure is Sugawara no Michizane, the 9th century scholar-poet who is esteemed as the patron of education. Sages outnumber generals and emperors by a wide margin. We find, too, character portraits of anonymous persons identified only by profession or title that convey penetrating psychological insight. Buddhism and to a lesser extent, Shintoism inspired some of the most powerfully evocative scroll paintings. Episodes from the life of the Buddha, Kannon Basatsu the goddess of mercy who is a feminized interpolation of a Hindu or early Buddhist bodhisattva (known as Guan Yin in Chinese iconography), Shinren - the founder of Zen, Amaterasu - the central kami in Shinto eschatology, are recurrent subjects. The best of these religious paintings are aesthetically exquisite and inspiring as expressions of spiritual sentiment. Some are impressive statements of disciplined dramatic effect. The numerous paintings of common folk engaged in prosaic activities are also intriguing on other counts. For they provide a sense of how their lives were experienced among the common folk, their pastimes and perspectives, depicted with warm humanism.

Prowling among Japanese scroll paintings, one encounters intriguing questions and arresting images. Why does a red tinge to a face signify virtue whereas in the West it suggests only embarrassment? Were the artists who show Kannon cuddling a Jesus-like infant Christians? Why is the blustering physicality of twentieth century Imperial Japan so completely absent? How did all those sages gazing at waterfalls or convivially gathered in bamboo groves enjoy the equivalent of sabbaticals or foundation grants? As to riveting images, here are a few: the heavily armed samurai literally stopping to 'smell' the cherry blossoms; Gautama leaving his renouncer's cave in such haste that he struggles not to lose a sandal; a farm boy carrying a bundle of hay while reading a book with rapt attention.

Where does one see Japanese scroll paintings? Museums tend to restrict themselves to the classic period and a few classic artists from the early Edo period. Art book collections are few and far between - over here anyway. Oddly, the best place to familiarize oneself with the genre is the web. Hundreds are available for sale. They naturally are of mixed quality, but there always are first rate scrolls available. Scroll paintings have fallen out of fashion in Japan. Traditionally, they were the main wall decoration in Japanese homes; those with nature scenes changed seasonally. An evolving sense of decor seems the reason why dealers are so well stocked. They are scrupulously honest: in representation (including close-ups of even minor flaws), and the scrolls are quite inexpensive. A great place to begin your journey of Japanese scroll paintings is the Asian Antiques Shop at http://www.asianantiquebargains.com.

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Antique Chinese and Japanese Scroll Paintings

Before the 20th century, the idea that a painting should be framed and hung permanently on wall was a completely foreign concept in Asian countries like China and Japan. Art hanging on the wall was transitory and meant to be rolled up and stored, changed to match the occasion or season or mark an honored guest. These scroll paintings, usually ink on silk or paper, had weighted rods made of wood, ivory, or porcelain at the bottom and were stored in boxes marked with the name of the artists and the date.

Scrolls are an intimate form of painting meant to be touched and viewed up close. Part of the joy of owning an Asian scroll is the process of taking out a painting that's been in storage and re-experiencing it, bit by bit, as it unrolls. Since ancient times, Buddhist monks all over Asia, including India, Tibet, and Nepal, employed painted scrolls called "thangka" as a portable means for teaching their philosophy.

Early Chinese paintings were stories, told in pictures or in calligraphy, with wooden rollers attached to either side, read from right to left, a narrative art that was adapted by the Japanese during the influx of Chinese culture in the sixth century. These handscrolls are now rare, as few were made in the past century.

Chinese horizontal scrolls were also employed as a canvas for landscape painting, and around the third century the Chinese were making screens that sometimes incorporated vertical scroll paintings. When these concepts reached Japan, the artisans of the Heian era (794-1185) were eager to make them their own, with non-religious Japanese themes like cherries, maples, and birds.

Common motifs in hanging scrolls include poems and Zen sayings in Japanese and Chinese calligraphy, as well as landscapes, seasons, flower-and-bird combinations ("kacho" in Japanese), religious themes, Zen icons, military scenes, Chinese boys, and portraits. During World War II, American soldiers in Japan were partial to "kakemono" showing women in kimonos, and so these hanging scrolls were mass-produced cheaply.

Japanese "kakemono" scrolls from masters from the Kano school, as well as big names like Uemura Shoen and Yokoyama Taikan go for a high price tag these days, but antique and vintage scrolls by unknowns sell for a few hundred dollars in Japan. Be sure to look for expected wear-and-tear, as most truly old scrolls will look a little beat up.

You can find some of these beautiful Chinese and Japanese scroll paintings below. Get one or more today and brighten your decor.

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[phpbay keywords="japanese scrolls" siteid="1" sortorder="BestMatch" templatename="default" paging="true"]