Chinese Antiques, Shopper Guide

Types of Chinese Art & Antiques

Vessels

Perhaps the most widely collected object within the realm of Chinese art is the vessel, which includes snuff bottles, hand-painted porcelain vases and pots, teapots, and plates.

Snuff bottles, which were used to carry powdered tobacco for the purpose of remedying ailments such as headaches, are typically no larger than the palm of one’s hand. Most often, snuff bottle collectors prefer those that were created and used during the Qing dynasty (1644-1912). These usually have two parts: the main container used for carrying tobacco and a cap with an attached spoon. Snuff bottles are most commonly made of glass, but can also comprise of jade, porcelain, amber, or metal. The rarity of the material, as well as the beauty and intricacy of the decoration, represented status and wealth during the Qing dynasty. Today, snuff bottles are created as souvenirs.

Like snuff bottles, vases, pots, teapots, and plates were made out of materials including clay, jade, bronze, and porcelain. Porcelain was not commonly used until the Song Dynasty in 960 A.D., after which artisans mastered the blue and white painted porcelain popular today. Ornately painted bronze vessels called cloisonné were developed in the 14th century. Cloisonné is characterized by soldered strips of gold or silver on metal with enamel and jeweled inlays.

Paintings

As opposed to Western paintings, which are typically made on canvas or other woven fabric, Chinese paintings predominantly exist on silk or rice paper. The most well-known examples are produced with water-based inks and depict stylized yet intricate visions of nature, people, animals, and more. Works in this category tend to be small to medium-sized in the form of a horizontal or vertical scroll, a fan shape, or a flat sheet. Paintings often fall in a lower price range compared to other Chinese antiques.

Set of Four Scholars Screen Paintings, gouache and ink on linen, 1850, 23.75 x 42.25 in.,

 

Sculptures

Chinese sculptures, like paintings, depict many things such as people, animals, mythical creatures, Buddha, and more. They can be made out of clay, bronze, glass, or stone. Collectors all over the world are particularly interested in the use of jade in sculpture.

Jade, used for both tools and also for ceremony since Neolithic times, is characterized by a translucent white and green color. There are both hard and soft versions of jade – hard jadeite and soft nephrite. The most sought-after type of jade in Chinese art is white jade, sometimes referred to as “mutton fat” jade.

 

Source: https://www.invaluable.com/blog/buyers-guide-to-chinese-art/

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