Oriental Figurines

Types of Antique Oriental Figurines

Antique-vintage-oriental-asian-japanese-chinese-korean-figurines.  Typically depicting a human figure or animal form, oriental figurines offer modern collectors a chance to connect with the past. Materials and motifs vary according to the era and location where the art was created, but the following are some of the most popular.

Precious Natural Materials

Many lovely oriental figurines are crafted from jade, ivory, tiger’s eye, coral, and other precious or semi-precious materials. Typically, these figurines were carved by hand, and color may or may not have been added to enhance the design.

According to Kovels.com, soapstone was a popular material for Asian figural art. Carvings feature human figures and animals and come from a number of locations and eras.

The Chicago Appraisers’ Association reports that ivory, although now banned in new pieces, was a popular medium for Oriental figurines. If authentic, these pieces can be extremely valuable. Antiques Roadshow has pictures of some of these beautiful pieces, as well as the prices these items fetched at auction.

Porcelain and Ceramic

Asian craftspeople have been making ceramic, clay, or porcelain figurines for hundreds and even thousands of years.  These are a few of the most notably varieties:

The Japanese clay figurines, known as dogu, date from 10,000 BCE to 300 BCE, and depict people and animals in a variety of occupations. During the Tang dynasty, which ruled China from 681 to 907 CE, artists created burial figurines out of clay. These often took the shape of horses or camels and sometimes featured beautiful glazes. They were designed to accompany a body into the tomb.

During the Chinese Han dynasty, which ruled China from 206 BCE to 220 CE, artisans crafted figurines in a variety of female forms, including a mother figure breastfeeding an infant, a woman making dough, and a woman looking in a mirror. These figurines were also an important part of the burial ceremony.

Guanyin figurines, which often depict female or male forms holding bottles or vessels, were an important part of Chinese art between 100 BCE and 600 CE. These figures symbolize compassion and were an important part of the Buddhist religion in China.

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