Last Saturday we had an office outing to see the fruits of our Senior Partner's favorite hobby--antique collection. Given the rarety of antiques and China and the lack of interest in collecting them, his collection is truely unique (not to mention incredibly impressive)
First, a bit of context.
The turbulent 20th century has left mainland China largely devoid of antiques
First came the nearly constant warfare that lasted (in some form or another) from 1911 until 1949. Villages and homes were detroyed as different sides in different conflicts took turns battling over the same land.
Next came the hard times brought on by the disasterous Great Leap Forward. As people struggled to put food on their plates, they could hardly be expected to care about preserving various household items (especially when winters are cold and your grandmother's furniture is made of wood)
The Cultural Revolution was equally devistating. As part of a political movement, the government actively encouraged people to seek out and destroy whatever they could find that was a symbol of China's pre-communist heritage.
Finally, in the last twenty years China has been in a sprint to modernize its cities. The result of this, unfortunately, is that whole blocks of old houses are bulldozed at a
This, however, is where the senior attorney's collection comes in. As construction companies started to come through, destroying what old neighborhoods remained, the attorney would send some representatives out and ask to take all the furniture and woodwork away from the houses before they were bulldozed.
Over the last twenty-some-odd-years, he's managed to amass an enormous collection of antiques this way. He owns and operates four entire warehouses full of these things.
My own experience there was wonderful. I loved learning about every single piece. The attorney even maintains a staff at the warehouses to take guests around and explain the story behind each piece--where it came from, how it was used, what time period it comes from.
I know this is a shameless plug, but if anyone reading this ever makes it to Shanghai, I would definitely recommend a trip to his warehouses (they're open to the public). Probably the best part about the place is that everything is for sale. Personally, I got to take home a small (more modern) piece of woodwork.
Here's the website just to give an idea of how extensive his collection is.
It's definitly a must-see for anyone who loves antiquing.