Knowing how to appreciate the works of art and can make a collection of them are pleasures in life. We take relish in admiring the beauty of our collections, and our appreciations of arts grow as time go by. It is a self-contained hobby to judge and test our estimative powers. The corresponding external performances in our working environments, the evaluations by others are outcomes of the interactions with the outside world. The connoisseur’s ability is developed from the indulgence, and such ability combining with the personal insight internalize to be the value of our self-sureness,the basis for self-affirmation.
People generally only know the precious quality of gold, but ignored a porcelain plate, a copper bottle with several times the value of gold. Most people only know how to invest in stocks, real estate to hedge against inflation, but do not know that collection is an investment. Even better is that the elegant and cultivated nature of antique collection make it not as philistine and stinking as monetary speculation. So in the past, the officials collected antiques instead of hoarding cash as a way to avoid the criticisms of the multitudes.In the late Qing dynasty,the Prince Prime Minister of reigning national policy position,when he had million taels of deposition in
HSBC is still being reported to the throne; just imagine what worse conditions would be for the sub-officials? And if a bureaucrat had less than two hundred taels’ salary a year,after ten years ,there was his property worth two million dollars being established obviously in the main street;even though his offence was not reported to the authorities,the society should accuse him. No definite pricing antiques, that could be possessed with a dollar. Therefore the officials, to hide more than they earned in the antiques,in fact, used the magic bullet to hide their riches.
At the same time, antiques are the most convenient current assets.In the past,people would do the best for their faces; therefore even they were situated in straitened circumstances, they would not resort to the pawn shops or others to solve their financial problems,for fear that it would be detrimental to face, their stately images being ruined;then they had their collections to come to their rescue. For example, an
offical, thousand dollars short of money, placed an antique valued two thousand yuans into a curio shop and asked the antiquary to sell it for ten thousand yuans, claiming to have tired of having it. At the same time,he said that he wanted to buy another high product and there was a shortfall of one thousand of the new product and asked the antiquary to give him one thousand yuans beforehand. Although the value of two thousand yuan antique could not be sold at such super-high price, the antique dealer was still happy to have a collateral for the loan. This approach of asking for money did not show shabby.
People who know the value of the collection,which itself has been a notch above secularities; their visions are above the ordinary. contained in a small piece of curio having the long message, is beyond the naked eye can see. Should we load the entire body and mind with all the aspects of an antique, we have become broad-minded.
The collection of stone- seal as an example, when all the stone- seals are shown, we enjoy a splendid display just like we are in the timberland by imagining that we ourselves are admit the stone-seals. The indulging stone-seal lovers spending the leisure with the collections,their ways of appreciating the antiques are the same of traveling high and low and enjoy the sights of mountains and rivers. Moreover,this enjoyment derived from it is much more than the real sightseeing tour, for we can put the micro rocks in hands and caress them. The great fun is that we seem to be holding the secret of heaven and earth in the hands, not what the layman can understand. Set the precious stone in the hands,so that we can experience detailedly the quality of it. “Tian Huang” the highest quality stone enjoys the reputation as “The King of Stone”. As implied in the name(in english “Tian Huang” means the yellow stone in the field), the stone formerly buried in the field. There is rich lode of such stone high up in some mountains in the Fujian Province; by thousand years of wind and rain, flash floods and erosion,the ore exposed in the air. The broken pieces rolled down and cached in the paddy field,and then after a long sediment, affected by the temperature of the soil, the geothermal effect of the earth and so on. The stones became more moist,dense and oily. Even the newly unearthed field stone, the unique hoary temperament made it like a collection of antiques for years. Owing to the excessive excavation and the less and less production,the value of it is as expensive as gold many years ago. The Emperor Qianlong of Qing dynasty had “Tian Huang” engraved his imperial seal; then “Tian Huang”came to the throne of stone.
From the picture, we can see the top grade limpid orange “Tian Huang”which color red as amber,honey tasty like malt nourishment. It is an appetizing look for people .
An aura of vitality oozing from the stone, facing it ,we find that we are communicating with a man of decent and elegent bearing, and this encounter let us feel peaceful. Therefore this luxurious stone was deemed having ethics itself. If we can grasp,understand the virtue of antiquitities,we will upgrade our conduct and self-possession. Otherwise, if we only care about ownership, care about the loss
of it, misfortune might befall.
1930,a man named Liu Dong Xuan who opened an antique shop in Tianjin. One day,
someone took a block of yellow stone weighed more than ten taels claiming that it was Tian Huang which sold for 200 yuans.Liu scrutinized the stone and thought for a while then refused the offer of sell, for he think that it was a butter stone,not a precious stone. He said:’We do not accept that kind of stone.’ The seller went to
another small antique shop to have his Tian huang sale and sold it for tens of yuans. When Liu knew someone spending money to buy the “stone”, he thought it being stupid. The next year, several antiquaries from Beijing Liu Li Chang,(Liu Li Chang is a famous curtural street in Beijing)went to Tianjin for the purchase of curios. They occassionally find the “stone”in the small shop and they together spent four hundred yuans to buy it. The news quickly spread to Liu,so he was shocked, He also followed the antiquaries back to Beijing to find out the truth. He saw the “stone” was placed in the Association’s shoping area and his peers all gather around appreciating the great Tian huang which had been authenticated as an precious stone. While it was a fine stuff,it finally made a thirteen hundred yuan deal. At that time, it was the price to buy to gold of equal weight. Liu took a train back to Tianjin and was feeling down by thinking over the matter again and again, very depressed. Back home, the feeling of disgrace, the remorse of the missing chance to have a fortune led him into bad conditions. He had no appetite for food, suffering from insomnia,even bedridden and died afterward
Chinese has how many years of antique history, and there is how many years of antique discriminances. Identifying which are real antiques and which are counterfeits need the the required knowledge. The curio dealers should also have all
aspects of knowledges in their professions,including:art history, geographic knowledge, cultural knowledge,communicating skills. All these are to stimulate buyers’buying interest, to add value to the antiquities. However it is rare that an antiquary does not lie and a customer does not being cheated. Sometimes the antique dealer is forced to lie. Obviously the counterfeit is not real,but judged as real by the buyer who counted on his smart; then the dealer couldn’t tell him the truth,for the buyer would think being looked down if you told him that he was wrong. A blue and white China-ware was the product of Qing dynasty,and it was in the style of the former Ming dynasty.If the buyer talked on and on about how he knew that it was an antique of Ming dynasty with the tone of an expert, you would not go to
embarrass him. In daily life, it is easy to echo with someone’s priggish point of view, for it is the convenient way to make other feeling good. Since 1900,the year in,year out accumulated fakes have flooded in the domestic and international auction markets ; the technique of mixing the spurious with the genuine is so brilliant,that the authenticity of an antique could only rely on a handful of expert connoisseurs.
All the stuff displaying in the antique shop are true mingled with the false:
some with very high skill of imitation,some with low quality disguise,some being fake but being regarded as the real things,some partialy true, and some unclassified. The antique business do not prohibit telling lie,whether forced or intentional; deceptive is not considered shameful. Only stealing is the forbiddance,and if someone was accused of stealing antique from other,he no longer can go into this bussiness again.The small world of appreciation and collection is the microcosm of the larger society where people have their interpersonal relationships.We sometimes are forced to say something against our wills;we are happy to listen compliments; sometimes truth is hard to accept. Therefore in our lives, most of the time we are
situated in the state of self- deception,while speaking insincerely to others.At the same time we are cheated by other people. We do not know or do not want to know the fact in our whole lives.