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Antique markets in Nanjing

  • Written by Maxim Hua
Antiques in modern times are revered as not only a reminder of the past, but also as an investment for the future. In Nanjing, there are three main areas where antiques are sold, but buyers should beware: overpriced fakes are common. Maxim Hua reports.
{xtypo_dropcap}N{/xtypo_dropcap}anjing has three main antique markets: Chao Tian Gong (朝天宫), Confucius Temple (夫子庙) and Stone City (南艺后街). Click here to view a Google map with the location of each.

Prior to 2009, Chao Tian Gong (朝天宫) was the number one market in Nanjing, and it ranked high nationally as well. However, the entire market changed locations last year (the new location is close to the old one), so they are in a period of redevelopment now.

The Confucius Temple market (夫子庙) is particularly popular with tourists, meaning high prices and a large number of fakes – buyer beware!

{typography box_white left=300px}Guo Yi Tang (国艺堂) art supplies

Stone City's Guo Yi Tang (国艺堂) has one of the widest selection of art supplies in the city, including frames, paper, canvases, ink stones, etc.

Besides art materials, they also have a small gallery featuring works for sale from local artists, plus a large collection of art books. {/typography}Fairly new on the scene is the Stone City (南艺后街) market. They've got a large management team keen on establishing the area as the top place for antiques in the city, and they're off to a good start.

The area is spread over 20,000 square meters and divided into outdoor and indoor markets.

Surrounded by parks straddling the Qinhai River (it makes for a lovely Sunday stroll), the markets are packed with the usual stuff: jade pieces, bronze artifacts, porcelain bowls, rare stones, wood handcrafts etc.

While one shouldn't expect to hit the jackpot here, some people get lucky.

Last year, for example, Sohu reported about several people who lucked out, including a man who visited the Stone City market and purchased a porcelain pot that the seller claimed was from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644).

He paid 300 RMB for the piece, and then later discovered that it was actually worth over 6,000 RMB!

The Chinese appreciation for antiques

I asked around the Stone City market to find out why Chinese people appreciate antiques so much. One vendor told me that antiques are similar to fossil fuels – they are relics of history, and they are limited in number.

Another vendor told me that these days, antiques are rapidly appreciating in value, and astute buyers can get much higher profits than they can from other kinds of investments: "A lot of rich people come here, looking for rare finds that they can make money from."

One woman that I spoke to offered a different angle: "Normal people like to come here because they enjoy hearing gossip about people earned big money buying cheap antiques. Besides that, antiques bring a feeling of history. People feel astonished by the delicate workmanship and design, with a feeling that does not exist in the modern commercial world."

Local artist Luo Fan expressed that contemporary artists don't appreciate antiques as much as traditional Chinese ink painters do. "They love to study the lines and designs of pieces. It gives them a feeling of tradition, and it can help them with their painting." Regarding the question of fakes, he thought it no big deal, from an artist's perspective. "There is a shortage of real pieces and they are quite expensive anyway. So, many artists have no problem to buy replicas. It can make them happy."

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