Destination: China: Hong Kong
Arch Angel Antiques
One of Hong Kong’s foremost experts on antiques is Bonnie Groot, of Arch Angel Antiques, an American who can rattle off the artistic achievements of different dynasties with alacrity. Bonnie, whose husband, Jacobus Groot owns the shop, has spent much of her adult life dealing with antiques, and has published China, the Art of the Middle Kingdom, featuring photographs of prime pieces from various eras and a collection of thoughtful essays. “The enduring power of Chinese art is that it instills in us a passion that is both emotional and profound as we come to understand the complex rituals and beliefs that surrounded its making and ultimately leads us back in time to a world that we cannot help but feel privileged to enter,” she says.
As well as big-picture concepts, Groot can also give advice on the bottom line for buying. The general rule is to purchase something that you personally like, but if looking for potential appreciation, she advises buying the very best in any category. She also stresses that would-be buyers should establish which stores are the most reputable: hotel concierges are usually able to steer shoppers in the direction of the “pukka” (genuine) establishments and away from places not known for being too picky about an object’s provenance. Groot recommends obtaining a certificate from the Authentication Committee at the Hong Kong Art Craft Merchants Association (www.artcraft.org.hk).
Chinese Arts & Crafts
This may feel like a Chinatown emporium but it’s the best place for one-stop shopping for Chinese traditional objects and fashions. Jade trinkets, carved chopsticks, silk pajamas, dragon-motif teapots, etc… You can find everything from herbal teas and healing balms and remedies to furniture, ceramics and fashions, including skirts and jackets fashioned out of antique textiles, which are really special.
Gallery Oi Ling
Owner Oi Ling is the third generation of the Chiang family to collect Chinese antiques: her grandfather collected fine furniture and scholar’s items. She is a renowned authority, often called on to help with top auction houses and to speak as a guest at international antiques shows, and is passionate about her topic.
Teresa Coleman Fine Arts
This gallery specializes in embroidered costumes from the Chinese imperial court. In recent times, faux versions of these classics have become popular in the West; indeed, Shanghai Tang and other clothing stores have carved out entire businesses from reinterpreting these designs. But no modern-day craftsperson can re-create these silk gems, which originally took months to make. The designs are flamboyant and colorful—flaming gold dragons were favorite symbols to denote, none too subtly, the power and wealth of the owner.
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