Wednesday, 2 September 2009

Holidays in China

Looking at the pictures here, I'm giving you no guesses about where I spent my Summer holidays this year! Carefully saved air miles were cashed in, and at the end of August the banker and I went on a two week trip across China, a place neither of us had been to before. Although I did take some time off and away from work, I just can't tear myself away completely. As a result I was able to check out some of the best destinations for hunting for antiques and collectables in the four cities we visited.
I say antiques, but they weren't my target. Compared to the West, there are fewer authentic antiques in China due to the Cultural Revolution, and the enormous level of export of goods across the centuries. It's also illegal to export antiques made before 1795, and authentic pieces made after that date until the early 20thC need to be examined by government experts, have a red seal applied, and be officially cleared for export. But there's another concern for me with Chinese, or any Asian, antiques or works of art. Although I've been interested, I've never had to time to learn in depth about this incredibly deep and complex subject. So it's possible that, in China, I might not know what I was looking at, or whether I was paying the right price.
China has had a long history of reproducing historic designs and styles, partly out of respect for the people that made them, and partly for the obvious commercial reasons. Would I know if I was buying a modern reproduction, or even one made a century ago in respectful imitation of an Ancient design? Time will tell...
So I decided that my self-set task was to find the best modern and exportable reproduction or fake that I could. The trip was expensive, so I set myself a limit of no more than £50 per piece, and my budget only allowed me to buy a couple of pieces...

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