Things Chinese: Antiques, Crafts, Collectibles

Things Chinese: Antiques, Crafts, Collectibles

Ronald G. Knapp, Michael Freeman

Language: English

Pages: 144

ISBN: 080484187X

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


China's renowned art objects, furnishings, and handicrafts have long been sought by collectors and inspired designers. Through 60 emblematically Chinese antiques and items, Things Chinese opens up the world of Chinese culture.

The history, cultural significance and customs surrounding these exemplars of Chinese art and material culture come into dazzling focus through detailed descriptions and full-color photographs. Items covered include:

  • Bamboo furniture
  • Ivory carving
  • Snuff bottles
  • Mooncake molds
  • Musical instruments
  • Mahjong sets
  • Fengshui compasses

Things Chinese brings together China scholar Ronald Knapp, who describes the history and use of these Chinese artifacts in fascinating detail, and Michael Freeman, whose work has appeared in magazines such as the Smithsonian, GEO and Conde Nast Traveler, and here lovingly and richly photographs each.

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paste applied with a smoothing brush. If done poorly, creases, even bubbles, will form and the painting will deteriorate. The first step is to affix a larger backing paper to the painting in order to stiffen and reinforce it. Next, silk strips, compatible in color and texture, are attached to the adjacent sides and top of the painting before another backing is attached to strengthen the overall form. A semicylindrical rod placed at the top, together with a silk ribbon in the shape of a triangle,

personal possessions, yet those with wealth enjoyed more personal effects. While clothing and shoes can vary from simple to elaborate, serving both utilitarian and decorative needs as well as sometimes even being shared, other objects are truly personal, individualized to meet the requirements of the owner. Nothing Chinese is more personal than a seal, which has carved into its base Chinese characters representing the “signature” that serves to certify one’s identity. Like jewelry, snuff bottles,

layers before being stitched all around, trimmed, and then bound by a custom-cut perimeter welt. Young women sometimes prepared embroidered insoles with auspicious designs that could be slipped into the shoes of their husband on their wedding day. Among the poorest in China, scavenged strips of paper without writing were used in place of rags for insoles. Some have asserted that “missionaries from the West were startled to find that their ship- 70 Things Chinese ments of Bibles, so

the Beijing opera catalog, there are also similarities between them based on color and composition that are both exaggerated and nuanced. Those characters whose faces are dominated by the color red are known for their loyalty, righteousness, and courage. Black similarly represents loyalty and uprightness, while purple symbolizes wisdom and resourcefulness. White faces are differentiated by whether the color is a “watery” white, in which case the individual is known for his trickery and

thick-bodied figures may look quite similar in that they have gaping jaws and wide-opened eyes on their raised heads, each shrouded with a curled mane. However, differences can be confirmed by looking carefully at what one paw of each figure is coddling. While it is most common for the right paw of the male lion to be supported by an ornamented ball, sometimes it is the left paw. Whatever the case, the opposite paw of the lioness always rests playfully atop a lion cub reclining on its back.

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