Chinese Antique Glossary – Q


The qin is a musical instrument favored by Chinese scholars. It is a stringed instrument, resembling a Western zither. The body, or sounding box, of a qin was usually made of two different types of wood. The upper section was made of tong wood and the lower part of zi wood. It was originally a five-stringed instrument, but it is believed that as early as the Zhou dynasty two further strings were added. All surviving qin are seven-stringed.

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Chinese Antique Glossary – P


A Buddhist group of five figures: a Buddha in the center, flanked by two Bodhisattvas and two disciples.


The pose in sculpture that symbolizes the Buddha’s death and transcendence, reclining on his right side with his head pointing north. In Sri Lanka, there is a slightly different “sleeping pose” that is sometimes distinguished from the parinirvana itself.

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Chinese Antique Glossary – O


When a ceramic object is fired, the atmosphere in the kiln is crucial to final appearance of the piece. The term ‘oxidation’ indicates that the object has been fired in a kiln with an ‘oxidizing’ atmosphere – that is one into which oxygen has been allowed to enter. Under these conditions oxygen may combine with the constituents of the glaze and/or body material of the piece. The most obvious effect is upon iron oxide, which may be converted from ferrous oxide (4FeO) to ferric oxide (2Fe2O3) taking on a warm, brownish, tone.

Oni (Japan)

Lecherous horned devils of ferocious mien and low intelligence. Their folklore derives originally from China.

Chinese Antique Glossary – N

Nanmu (Cedar)

This silvery-brown softwood was traditionally prized as one of the best materials for cabinet construction. Nanmu burl is typically used for decorating cabinet doors and table panels. More than thirty varieties are found south of the Yangzi River, Hainan and Vietnam. In addition to furniture, nanmu is used in the construction of houses and boats. Once dry, the wood does not warp or split, unlike regular wood, and can be sanded and polished to create a smooth, hard surface, making it ideal for furniture manufacture. See also Huanghuali, Yumu and Zitan.

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Chinese Antique Glossary – M

Ming Dynasty

1368-1644 and comprising:

Hongwu, 1368-1398
Jianwen, 1399-1402
Yongle, 1403-1425
Hongxi, 1425
Xuande, 1426-1435
Zhengtong, 1436-1449
Jingtai, 1450-1456
Tianshun, 1457-1464
Chenghua, 1465-1487
Hongzhi, 1488-1505
Zhengde, 1506-1521
Jiajing, 1522-1566
Longqing, 1567-1572
Wanli, 1573-1619
Taichang, 1620
Tianqi, 1621-1627
Chongzhen, 1628-1644

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