Gung Hay Fat Choy! 

Clinton J. Holloway

 

“Gung Hay Fat Choy!” Or “Happy New Year,” if you prefer, in Chinese! February 10 marks the beginning of the 15 day observance of Chinese New Year that is observed by Chinese people the world over. Visit nearly any major city in the coming weeks and you will find Chinese New Year festivities. Even in Nashville, it is possible to attend many different observances showcasing wonderful cuisine, fireworks and the famous and raucous dragon dance.  

 

Chinese culture dates back thousands of years; they are the innovators behind such pivotal inventions as gun powder and paper. While many Chinese objects d’art were exported in years past, especially during the Cultural Revolution of Chairman Mao in the 1960s and 1970s, today the booming Chinese economy means that there are many Chinese collectors who are seeking to reclaim their heritage. It is possible to build a collection of Chinese art and antiquities that date back hundreds of years. Fascination with the China trade became popular in the United States in our early history because of our desire for tea and porcelain goods, hence the name “china” for our fine dinnerware.

 

Popular Chinese motifs include an abundance of red and gold, both of which are symbols of good luck, a dominant theme in the Chinese New Year observance. Booth B-210 offers this large red rice container for $49.95, which includes a traditional black stand/base (photo, above right). Though not an antique, it is certainly a pleasing decorator piece for those seeking the Chinese motif.

 

The Chinese alphabet contains more than 600 characters and is traditionally written in calligraphy. Chinese décor often includes the hanging of elaborately written poems or maxims used to teach and improve character. Following that tradition, Booth B-234 offers this handsome framed block print, ready to hang, for $85 (photo, above left).     

 

Booth B-174 offers this lovely garden Buddha on a base, standing at about two-and-a-half feet tall with a jade-green patina (photo, right). The Buddha has different meanings, depending upon specific poses, and therefore presents many collecting opportunities. You will have fun researching the meaning behind this concrete garden statue, which costs only $95 with a 20% discount.

 

Another gift of the Chinese culture to the world was silk. Wonderful examples of silk from pillows to wall hangings and including vintage and modern apparel can be found at both of the GasLamp malls. A beautiful silk jacket made in Shanghai is offered for $54 at Booth T-351 (photo, left). The fact that it is reversible makes it doubly appealing and fashionable. Look around, turquoise is the hot color this year!

 

Though it may reinforce racial stereotypes out of favor in this day and age, Booth B-388 has a whimsical piece that will interest a variety of collectors, from doll aficionados to folk art enthusiast (photo, right). This handmade fabric “Chinese Laundry” bag has definite appeal. For $55 you can solve Mr. Lee’s “ancient Chinese secret” (think Calgon commercials of the 1970s!).           

 

Chinese New Year is the most important date on the Chinese calendar it is Christmas, birthday, Fourth of July, New Year’s and more, all rolled into one. The year of 2013 is the Year of the Snake in the Chinese Zodiac; it is said to be a year for good luck in relationships, overcoming setbacks and financial fortun. So, good luck to you in finding your fortunes at the GasLamp Antiques and Decorating Malls and Gung Hay Fat Choy!

 

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