Chinese New Year: Exploring Popular Chinese Antiques and Collectibles

Thursday 8th February 2024 - Cara Bentham


Chinese New Year: Exploring Popular Chinese Antiques and Collectibles

Discover the rich heritage of Chinese New Year through an exploration of popular Chinese antiques and collectables.

Chinese New Year has just passed, and this time we're stepping into the Year of the Dragon. It's a season filled with big celebrations, timeless traditions, and lots of joy. China's rich history, which spans thousands of years, has left us with an incredible array of antiques and collectibles that captivate people worldwide. From breathtaking porcelain to meaningful jade carvings, these pieces offer a glimpse into China's illustrious past. Let's dive in and explore some of the most sought-after Chinese antiques and collectibles.

Antique Porcelain: The Pride of Ming and Qing Dynasties

The Story: Ming and Qing dynasty ceramics are the crown jewels of Chinese antiques, celebrated for their superior craftsmanship and eye-catching glazes. These pieces date from the 14th to the 20th centuries and are a testament to the artistic prowess of Chinese artisans during two of the most influential periods in China's history.

Why They Matter: Whether it's vases, bowls, or figurines, Ming and Qing porcelain are adorned with elaborate designs—think dragons amidst clouds, serene landscapes, and vibrant floral patterns. These items weren't just for show; they played a key role in the daily lives and ceremonies of emperors and the elite, adding a touch of elegance to their surroundings.

Jade Carvings: The Essence of Chinese Spirituality

The Backdrop: In Chinese culture, jade is more than just a stone; it embodies purity, longevity, and prosperity. Jade carvings, revered for millennia, were integral to religious ceremonies and symbols of societal status and wealth.

Significance: The artistry of antique jade carvings, from jewelry to sculptures, reflects the deep spiritual and social values of ancient Chinese society. Dragons and phoenixes, among other mythical beings, are common themes, each carrying rich symbolic meaning.

Antique Furniture: A Legacy of Craftsmanship

The Heritage: The tradition of Chinese antique furniture showcases centuries of woodworking mastery. Craftsmen from the Ming and Qing dynasties used advanced techniques to create pieces that were both functional and stunningly beautiful.

The Appeal: Prized for their historical relevance and exquisite craftsmanship, pieces like intricately carved chairs and elegant cabinets transport us back to the days of imperial China, offering a taste of the opulence and sophistication that defined the era.

Chinese Paintings and Scrolls: Windows to Ancient Worlds

The Tradition: With roots stretching back to the Neolithic period, Chinese painting offers a rich narrative of the country's artistic evolution. Ink paintings and scrolls are cherished for their representation of nature, mythology, and historical events, each telling its own story.

What Makes Them Special: These artworks not only showcase the skill and philosophical depth of Chinese artists but also provide collectors with a connection to the aesthetic and intellectual life of ancient China.

Antique Coins and Currency: A Wealth of History

The Legacy: Chinese coins and paper money, circulating for over 2,000 years, embody the nation's economic history, cultural evolution, and artistic achievement.

Collector's Corner: Featuring dragons, auspicious symbols, and historical figures, these pieces are a window into the past, appealing to those who cherish both the artistry and the historical narratives they represent.

Cloisonné Ware: Enamel Magnificence

The Craft: Practised for over a millennium, Chinese cloisonné is renowned for its detailed patterns and vibrant colors, a true testament to the skill of its artisans.

Why Collectors Love It: Each piece, be it a vase or decorative plate, is a colorful celebration of Chinese art, making cloisonné a favorite among those who appreciate the finer details of craftsmanship.

The Dragon's Year: A Time for Collecting

As we welcome the Year of the Dragon on February 10th, the symbolism of power, strength, and fortune takes center stage. Antiques featuring dragons or zodiac-related themes are especially meaningful now, offering a unique way to connect with the energy of the new year.

From majestic dragon scrolls to coins that carry the promise of prosperity, these items are more than just collectibles—they're a way to embrace the auspicious spirit of the Year of the Dragon.

Highlights from Our Upcoming Auctions

Our auction houses are a great place to find Chinese treasures. Here are a selection of items from our upcoming sales:


This rare Chinese Shiwan-ware-shaped circular dish dating to the Qing Dynasty (18th/19th century) goes up for sale on February 21st at Dore and Rees Auctions. It is estimated at £40 - £60.

This 20th century Chinese Cloisonne enamel jar goes up for sale on February 22nd at Ma San Auction. It is estimated at £150 - £200. 

This set of six Chinese pith paintings, dating to the Qing Dynasty, will go up for sale on February 22nd at Ma San Auction.

This Qing Dynasty Chinese carved Jade ‘ and Chlong’ brush washer goes up for sale on February 21st at Dore and Rees Auction. It is estimated at £80 - £120.

You can bid on all these items and much more from the comfort of your home. For more Chinese antiques and collectables, you can search lots from our upcoming auctions or register and set alerts so you never miss out!


As Chinese New Year approaches, embrace the spirit of the holiday by exploring the world of collectable Chinese antiques. Whether you're drawn to the intricate beauty of antique porcelain, the spiritual significance of jade carvings, or the timeless elegance of antique furniture, these treasures offer a window into China's rich cultural heritage and provide an opportunity to celebrate the traditions of the past while welcoming the blessings of the Year of the Dragon.