A Time Before Instagram

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Long before Instagram feeds and MasterChef cook-offs highlighted a near-universal obsession with the visual appearance of food, a craftsman in 19th-century China meticulously carved and dyed a chunk of jasper, a jade-like stone, to look like a piece of braised pork belly. The National Palace Museum in Taipei has long showcased this uncanny sculpture, known as “the meat-shaped stone,” as one of its most prized holdings, very rarely loaning it out. But now the glistening dish is leaving Taipei to make its North American debut in a city that celebrates Chinese cuisine: San Francisco.

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10 things you need to know about Chinese ceramics

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Handle as many pieces as possible

Chinese ceramics have been copied for hundreds of years by Chinese potters. They copy out of a reverence for an earlier period but often just to fool the buyer. The market has many copies so buyer beware. When starting to collect ceramics, there is no shortcut to learning and authenticating pieces than to handle as many as possible. Take advantage of the large numbers of Chinese ceramics offered around the world at reputable auction houses. In many ways, auction houses are even better than museums as you can handle pieces in cabinets. In handling many pieces, you get a feel for what a ceramic should feel like in the hand, the weight of the piece, the quality of the painting.

Ask questions

Building the knowledge needed to authenticate Chinese ceramics can take many years. Reading reference books can give a structure to the field but pick specialists’ brains and ask as many questions as possible. There is nothing that a specialist with a little time on their hands likes better than to talk about their subject.

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China’s top 10 archaeological finds of 2015

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A painted frame of a se with circular carved phoenix head and painted vertical scale patterns on part of the body is excavated in Guojiamiao cemetery.[Photo/kaogu.cn]

Chinese archaeologists have selected the top 10 archaeological discoveries in China of 2015, with the earliest dating back to the Paleolithic era.

The following is the list made public by the China Archaeological Society and a newspaper sponsored by the State Administration of Cultural Heritage on Monday:

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Rare Chinese ceramics on display at Asian Civilisations Museum in Singapore

View objects dating back to 5000BC at the Asian Civilisations Museum

The newly opened gallery, which occupies 333 sq m of the museum’s top floor, offers a quick survey of Chinese ceramics.

It features more than 300 objects made of baked clay – ranging from simple cups and pots that date as far back as 5000BC to exquisite porcelain vessels and ornamental objects from as recent as the 18th century.

Gallery highlights

Check out these works in the Chinese ceramics gallery at the Asian Civilisations Museum.

1. VASE WITH A CHRYSANTHEMUM BASE

Porcelain, China, about 1100BC The base of this vase, shaped like a ring of delicate upturned chrysanthemum petals, offers an elegant counterpoint to its broad, rounded upper body. The petal-like edge of the base was created by cutting the wet clay at sharp angles.

Vases of this type are not common. Another known example of it, which dates back to 1115BC, was excavated from a pagoda in Hebei, then ruled by the nomadic Khitan people under the Liao dynasty.

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