Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

Museum for Vancouver

Oei Hong Leon, a part time resident of Vancouver, loves Buddhism “not so much as religion but as a personal philosophy “. He owns about 50,000 pieces now housed in a private museum in Singapore.

At the same time the Vancouver International Centre of Contemporary Asian Art, and proponents like Robert H. N. Ho and China’s Poly Culture Group have suggested to build a museum for Chinese Art in Vancouver. My comment: The Poly Culture Group operates as a culture and art company in China – as art business and auction, as performance and theater management and as cinema investment and management company – all specially fostered by China Poly Group, a gigantic state owned Chinese business- if I am not mistaken.

And Poly Culture has launched a flagship art gallery for rare artifacts from Beijing’s Famous Summer Palace – in Vancouver.

I must visit Vancouver soon!!!



Swat’s Uddiyana Kingdom

EXPLORING THE VALLEY OF SWAT once known as the Switzerland of the east…..
in Pakistan


Swat District in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province of Pakistan has a history of over 2000 years, with Buddhist, Hindu and Islamic kingdoms and most recently the Taliban.

High mountains, clear lakes and green meadows are attractive not only to tourists. The Valley of Swat is said to have had over one thousand stupas and monasteries – today we now know of about 400 Buddhist sites – most frequently associated with Gandharan and Kushan art. A group of women trekkers, some from Swat University visited sites in March 2017 – that saw the times of Alexander the Great, the Kushan empire and Ashoka (Mauryan empire) – one of the earlier followers of Buddha.

Can we still go there to visit??



(top photo from Buddhist Art News)


Swann Galleries’ Early Printed Books Auction

Central Asian travel books exceeded expectations at Swann Galleries’ Spring Early Printed Books Auction.


Sir Marc Aurel Stein, Serindia: Detailed Report of Explorations in Central Asia and Westernmost China, first edition, Oxford, 1921. Sold April 12, 2016 for $18,750. (Pre-sale estimate $6,000 to $9,000).

New interest in the adventures of the Silk Road during the late 19th and early 20th century sparked these extraordinary prices.  I am aware that Sir Aurel Stein also removed a collection of books and manuscripts from the famous Dunhuang caves……..  And some of us are still waiting to go…..especially to the Taklamakan desert — if only briefly!


Elisabeth and Natasha


An interesting situation developed for a Chinese National Treasure— a painting hanging in the Forbidden Palace in Beijing and by some scholars long thought not to be the original by the Five Dynasties court painter Zhou Wenju (active  942-961) but a rendering by the Sung  Emperor Zhou who delighted in rendering or making studies of earlier masterworks— an activity often encountered in Chinese art.


The book “Original Intentions” edited by Nicholas Pearce and Jason Steuber deals extensively with productions, reproductions and interpretations in the arts of China (University Press of Florida 2012). Such later renderings of original works of art make it often enormously difficult to authenticate Chinese paintings. And who is to say whether  the original or the  exact rendering of the original should be worth more?
Now a painting has surfaced in New York  that is thought to be the original  done by the artist himself. The painting will be offered by Gianguan Auctions, formerly Hong Kong Auctions on March 19th. The painting is titled “Chess Game abut of Screen”.
I am curious who is behind Gianguan Auctions?  A quick internet search:
Gianguan Auctions

Gianguan Auctions (also known as Hong Kong Auctions) specializes in Chinese and Asian arts and has a wide clientele from China and Asia. Established in Hong Kong in 2002, a New York office opened in 2004. Four times a year, auctions are held at the Lefcourt Building on New York’s Madison Ave. Under the management of Mr. Kwong Lum, Gianguan has successfully sourced high-quality consignments that has resulted in record prices. Recently, Mr. Lum was appointed by Beijing’s National Museum’s Appraisal Centre as its chief consultant, an exceptional honour, which solidifies their reputation as experts in Chinese, antiques.

Gianguan Auctions Fine Chinese Art Auctions include an important selection of American Chinese private collections of traditional painting and calligraphy, bronzes, porcelain, jade and scholars items, dating from the Soong Dynasty to contemporary time with representations from each period”.

Go to to see the catalogue of their upcoming auction.
Elisabeth and Natasha


Yes there is some.
The spotlight has very long now been on very hot and very much in demand Chinese art resulting in sometimes exorbitant prices and sometimes these sales are not paid for.  But this is not what I want to talk about.
Lark Mason ( the Chinese art and antiques expert, independent curator, appraiser, consultant, educator and author and founder and president of iGavel Auctions and Chairman of Asia Week New York said something recently that resonated with me:
There are several areas of  fine, tribal and folk Asian art that can be purchased for under $ 5,000. He pointed to several areas:  Meiji period (1868-1912), (and later Japanese art I might add) such as bronze, ceramic and lacquer objects. I can think of several that recently sold at auction in the $ 1,200 to $ 5,000 range. Depending on your budget there are  also Japanese screens, Japanese contemporary ceramics, 19th century Japanese paintings all available in a reasonable price range.
Mr. Mason also mentioned art from Southeast Asia Thailand, Burma, Cambodia, Sri Lanka (and Laos and Indonesia I might add). SEA art is my specialty and I follow it closely. Many pieces especially from Cambodia can be quite expensive in comparison with the neighboring countries.
And there are Japanese woodblock prints. I just read a press release by Scholten Japanese Art participating in Asia Week with the exhibition: Ukiyo-e Tales: Stories from the Floating World. Most of you are familiar with color woodblock prints  and many were made in huge quantities, are still available in large quantities or at least later renditions thereof. Authentic prints, perhaps from the 18th and early 19th century, from a specific genre (kabuki actors, beautiful woman, warriors, erotica, etc), by an artist who did not produce so many prints and might be less known can be a good find and a little more expensive but still very reasonable for such a work of art. Scholten offers a very fine print by Eisen dated ca. 1830 for $ 3,800.
A dealer whose Japanese prints I have followed for a long time – – offers several 20th century ukiyo-e prints between $ 5,000 and $ 10,000 and I wish I would have purchased them when these artists were in the $ 2,000 range and it was not that long ago.  Check them out and his more recent prints.
Martha Sutherland of  M. Sutherland mentions Chinese album leaf paintings by well known artists  to be quite affordable, under $ 5,000, whereas larger  works  by the same artists would be quite expensive.
I must not forget India having recently appraised some Chola pieces I am aware of the  high price tag but there are lesser known periods of Indian art, such as Nayak period as pointed out by Sanjay Kapoor of Kapoor Galleries.
So we should all have fun and  focus on one reasonably priced niche of Asian art it is quite doable! Very dangerous for me who has accumulated more than I can handle.
Elisabeth and Natasha





December 2014 to December 30, 2015

One has to remember that the Lanna Kingdom, ca. 13th to the 18th century in Northern Thailand, at one time rivaled the Kingdom of Ayudhya. An important aspect of its economy was the textile trade; Lanna people imported silk thread from China, woven fabrics from India and England, dyes from Germany and produced exquisite woven textiles, cotton as well as silk. The exhibit was organized to demonstrate the importance of Lanna textile trade in the 19th century.

On the website there is a detailed explanation of different Thai textile techniques including Mudmee – the beautiful design made by wrapping patterns of the yarns before dying and weaving. Her Majesty the Queen revived and brought into the international limelight handmade mudmee woven Thai silk from Northeastern Thailand becoming the first Asian woman to promote what was described “native” gowns of gorgeous Thai silk. Her Majesty has several Support Foundations and one promotes the production of folk handicrafts and in particular mudmee silk.

Mudmee normally shows traditional geometric and zoormorphic motifs , created primarily by using various colors in the weft (horizontal – to -right threads); the warp or weft fabric are dyed prior to weaving, used to pattern the textile, after the bindings into thread before cloth construction, — different from ikat – the-dye technique is woven first and the resist bindings are then applied to the fabric which is dyed.



Categories: Uncategorized

The Book of Tea

bookofteaIf you want to read something about the importance of tea in Japanese culture my treasured stand-by is the old version of
The Book of Tea, (Cha no Hon) by Kakuzo Okakura, published 1964. It really is a guide to a life of simplicity and fulfillment in the context of Zen and the culture of tea drinking in Japanese life. There is also an expanded edition from June 2011.

But I really wanted to tell you about this new book:

I have not purchased this book but will soon and I am not sure where I found this article. The book seems to be exhaustive and shows how tea is totally integrated in Chinese culture.

See Inside this book now!
Tea in China: A Religious and Cultural History
Benn, James A.
9 x 6″, xi, 288 pp, 13 illustrations, 8 maps, abbreviations, notes, glossary, bibliography, index, paper, Honolulu, 2015.

Tea in China explores the contours of religious and cultural transformation in traditional China from the point of view of an everyday commodity and popular beverage. The work traces the development of tea drinking from its mythical origins to the nineteenth century and examines the changes in aesthetics, ritual, science, health, and knowledge that tea brought with it.

teainchinaThe shift in drinking habits that occurred in late medieval China cannot be understood without an appreciation of the fact that Buddhist monks were responsible for not only changing people’s attitudes toward the intoxicating substance, but also the proliferation of tea drinking. Monks had enjoyed a long association with tea in South China, but it was not until Lu Yu’s compilation of the Chajing (The Classic of Tea) and the spread of tea drinking by itinerant Chan monastics that tea culture became popular throughout the empire and beyond.

Tea was important for maintaining long periods of meditation; it also provided inspiration for poets and profoundly affected the ways in which ideas were exchanged. Prior to the eighth century, the aristocratic drinking party had excluded monks from participating in elite culture. Over cups of tea, however, monks and literati could meet on equal footing and share in the same aesthetic values. Monks and scholars thus found common ground in the popular stimulant—one with few side effects that was easily obtainable and provided inspiration and energy for composing poetry and meditating. In addition, rituals associated with tea drinking were developed in Chan monasteries, aiding in the transformation of China’s sacred landscape at the popular and elite level. Pilgrimages to monasteries that grew their own tea were essential in the spread of tea culture, and some monasteries owned vast tea plantations. By the end of the ninth century, tea was a vital component in the Chinese economy and in everyday life.

Tea in China transcends the boundaries of religious studies and cultural history as it draws on a broad range of materials—poetry, histories, liturgical texts, monastic regulations—many translated or analyzed for the first time. The book will be of interest to scholars of East Asia and all those concerned with the religious dimensions of commodity culture in the premodern world.



Categories: Uncategorized