Ming's Asian Gallery

- "The Pacific Region's Finest" - North Redmond Center

Representing 5,000 years of history and tradition, journey through the Imperial Dynasties of Japan, China, Korea, Myanmar, Cambodia, Tibet, Thailand and Nepal. From historical treasures to agents, Ming's offers a collection of unique antiques, fine furniture, art & accessories. Direct importer since 1966.

The Scholar of East Asia

Chinese Scholars were civil servants appointed by the emperor of China to perform day-to-day governance. The scholars were schooled in calligraphy and Confucian texts. They dominated the government and local life of China until 1911 and their status was based on merit and was official, not social.

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With the return of the school year, Ming’s Zen Gallery is featuring East Asian Scholar items in this installment of Zen Treasures. Scholar items make great gifts for your friends and loved ones headed back to the world of academia. Take a look at some of these beautiful artifacts that can bring a little Zen to the classroom or dorm room.

A typical Scholars desk can hold any number of interesting things but some of the most common are calligraphy brushes and a brush pot, scroll weights, ink stones and chops as well as stunning and unique Scholars Stones.

 

A basic calligraphy brush has a bamboo handle, although more exotic ones of ivory, jade, silver, gold and hardwoods are not uncommon. The material used for the bristles can also vary greatly but some of the more common ones are of horse, rabbit, goat or deer hair. Some parents will have a brush made from their child’s hair because it is said to bring good fortune in the child’s later academic examinations.

Chops (or seals) are typically made of shou shan stone, and depict the “signature” of a person, family or office and are still used frequently in place of a signature or autograph. Normally red ink or cinnabar paste is used for stamping and, of course, wax is used to actually seal a scroll or letter. Owners or collectors of art or books will often add their own studio seals to pieces they have collected. This practice is an act of appreciation towards the work.

Traditional East Asian ink is solidified into inksticks. Usually, some water is applied onto the inkstone before the bottom end of the inkstick is placed on the grinding surface and then gradually ground to produce the ink. More water is gradually added during the grinding process to increase the amount of ink produced, the excess flowing down into the reservoir of the inkstone where it will not evaporate as quickly as on the flat grinding surface, until enough ink has been produced for the purpose in question.

When painting or doing calligraphy, scroll weights were commonly used to keep the parchment or Xuan paper flat and prevent it from rolling up on itself. Scroll weights could be simple pieces of iron or intricately shaped or painted bone, wood or silver. They can be found in all shapes and sizes from special figurines to long flat pieces like the ones pictured here.

One of the most beautiful and elegant Scholars item is the Scholars Stone. Scholars would go out on quests to find a stone that spoke to them or reminded them of a landscape or mountain and would then return with it to mediate and help them gain clarity and insight while writing. Some of the prized features in these stones are thinness, openness, wrinkling and perforations. 

While there are many other tools of the East Asian scholar these are some of the basic necessities. Incense burners, water jars, deity statues and vases are also commonly found on a Scholar’s table.

So as you are sending your young adults, teachers and friends off to school this year, think about getting them a little gift of Zen to channel the wisdom of the ancient East Asian Scholar.

Zen Treasures- Year of the Horse

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 2014 is the Year of the Horse in the Chinese Zodiac and to honor that Ming’s Zen Gallery is kicking off our new Zen Treasure feature with all things equine! And we are not limiting it to just Chinese artifacts either. All horse depictions in our store are at least 10% off from Monday August 25th till Sunday August 31st!

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Hoses carry a lot of symbolism in Asia and are the subject of many forms of art. In China the horse is a symbol of economic growth and prosperity. Depictions of horses are often placed in or around finance buildings and government offices. 

The Japanese hold horses, particularly white ones, to be a symbol of divine authority and military leaders are pictured mounted on great white horses.

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One of the most interesting stories comes from Tibet. There they believed horses to be mighty spiritual communicators. Horses carried prayers up to the heavens and brought back blessings from the gods.

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So whether you are looking for a little financial oomph, or to be influential and authoritive, having an equine symbol in your home to carry your hopes to the skies is never a bad idea. So come check out the unique and beautiful Horse items we have featured this week! And keep an eye on Ming’s Twitter and Facebook pages for more pictures and special offers all week long!   

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Chinese Porcelain

Ming’s Zen Gallery is featuring our new shipment of antique, vintage and contemporary porcelain. We have a collection of Ginger Jars, Temple Jars and Melon Jars that will provide a lovely accent to any home. They come in a wide variety of colors and sizes, so come in and take advantage of the special savings we are offering for a limited time only! 

Blue & white, double happiness and floral patterned Ginger Jars.

Blue & white, double happiness and floral patterned Ginger Jars.

Ginger Jars are steeped in centuries of Chinese culture and history, a ginger jar is shaped with a wide mouth, a domed lid and a bulging, bulbous spherical hand painted body, they come in various styles and sizes and many different colors. Porcelain Chinese Ginger Jars were originally used to store food supplies like salt, herbs, oil and ginger, other Ginger Jars were allocated to be used as gifts. The jars acquired the name “Ginger Jars” because they often contained ginger when they were exported to the West.

Floral, antique Ginger Jars with original lids.

Floral, antique Ginger Jars with original lids.

A colorful pair of Temple Jars. These are featured in many other colors as well.

A colorful pair of Temple Jars. These are featured in many other colors as well.

The history of Temple Jars is as varied as Ginger Jars. In Chinese they are often called a "General's Hat" jar because the lid resembles the helmet of a Dynastic military leader. In modern times, both East and West use this urn shape for cremation remains but the jars have more than ample use outside of such ceremonial purposes. The ancient history of China and the development of porcelain vessels is entirely one of utility. They were used for almost any kind of storage, which could include anything from rice to ancestors. People who are concerned about the funerary connotations of Temple Jars need not worry, as this has never been their exclusive use. 

Mid-sized green and white contemporary Temple Jars with gold edging.

Mid-sized green and white contemporary Temple Jars with gold edging.

Antique, hand-painted Melon Jars

Antique, hand-painted Melon Jars

 

 Melon Jars are another form of Chinese pottery with a similar history.  Characterized by the flat, inset lid, they come in many sizes with a wide bulging top, tapering to a narrower base. They, also, were used to store food items, oil and ceremonial herbs. 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Porcelain jars make a beautiful addition to any home or office decor. They are wonderful as is, or you can remove the lid and fill them with bright flowers. Or if you really want to get in touch with their history, put a couple on your kitchen counter and use them to store your coffee and sugar! 

 

Coffee anyone?

Coffee anyone?

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