Chinese ceramics

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Chinese Ceramics

This year at Sotheby’s in Hong Kong a 500-year-old Chinese ceramic known as a “chicken cup”, due to its decoration featuring a rooster, a hen and her chicks, sold for a record-breaking $36 million. This enhanced the sense of vertigo in the auctioneering world caused by a 2013 sale when a Song dynasty bowl went for $2.23 million (incredibly, this 1,000 year-old piece had been bought for $3 at a garage sale). Stacey Pierson, a specialist at the School of Oriental and African Studies in London, says, “The interest comes particularly from the Chinese.” But the tastes of enthusiasts are changing. “Qing Song Emperor-ware, which was extremely popular a few years ago and highly-decorated and blingy, is dying down,” she adds. Her current tip is for Song-period ceramics and for the muscular, earthier ware from the Yangshao culture in the Neolithic period. Collectors should be wary, however. “It’s a minefield. Pieces are hard to identify and there are many forgeries,” says Pierson. Which means that in southeast China’s “Porcelain Capital” Jingdezhen you’ll find plenty of fakes – while a flea market find in the West might yield the real thing.