Welcome to VA’s collection of art, antiques, artifacts, adornments and more spanning centuries, continents and generations of artists reflecting numerous cultures, traditions and beliefs. Travel back through time to visit our carefully curated one-of-a-kind selection of authentic and unique artistic, spiritual and cultural treasures from across the globe. Our site currently displays a small portion of our collection, but we will be adding new items regularly, so please visit often. In you have inquiries about any items feel free to contact us at 213-568-3030 or firstname.lastname@example.org to schedule an appointment for a call, zoom or mobile phone video session.
EXPLORE AND LEARN
To make your experience more complete, each item has 3 components: a Title and Overview, a Description with highlighted words to click on to clarify their meaning and significance. Click on the 3rd component Additional Information for specifications such as origin, date, size, condition, shipping and reference number. We also have started a Blog Library accessible at the end of item overview or description or by going directly to our Blog Library by clicking on the Learn button above.
BROWSE BY CATEGORY
VA has Buddha Statues that include the 3 major branches of Buddhism: Mahayana (East Asia), Theravada (Southeast Asia) and Vajrayana (Tibet, Nepal, Bhutan, Mongolia). Although there are many Buddhas, most depict the historical Shakyamuni Buddha. Despite regional, stylistic and period variations, images have common features: superhuman physical traits (Lakshanas) such as an ushnisha and urna, symbols of radiance, pendulous earlobes, snail-crowned hair and monk’s robes. Images recall his major life events: his Infant Birth, Enlightenment and First Sermon. Usually portrayed seated with legs crossed (padmasana), his hand positions (mudras) are: Dhyana (meditation), bhumisparsha (earth witnessing), Abhaya (freedom from fear), Dharmachakra (teaching) and others. Buddhas also include Amitabha, Vairocana and the 5 Dyhani Buddhas and other localized Southeast Asia images like Jambupati (Buddha as King). Often placed in meditation spaces, Buddha images generates positive and relaxing energy to help concentration.
Modern decorating trends fully embrace filling wall space with items to augment traditional painting, prints and photos with three-dimensional art, textiles, ceramics and even jewelry. Functional decorative items appear in kitchens, studies and bathrooms adding texture, plays of shadow and light and dimensionality to otherwise plain surfaces. VA has an assortment of masks, carvings, brick tiles, chopsticks holders, textiles and even confection molds among other items to enhance any room. Check back for more to come.
Hindu Ritual Art
A home altar or shrine is a sacred space where Hindu families conduct daily worship (puja) to connect to the divine through prayers, supplication, songs, rituals and offerings. Puja components provide a multi-sensory experience: worshiping deities’ images; offering light, flowers, water and food accompanied by fragrant incense, oil lamps, candles and bells. The 7 items on a puja tray help devotees use all senses, symbolizing the whole person is involved in devotion: a bell, oil lamp (diya), incense holder, incense, water container, spoon and chopra container for colored powders to mark devotees’ foreheads. Shrines also hold sacred deity images (murti) to contain each deity’s essence and demonstrate worshipers love and devotion. The most common altar deities are Shiva, Parvati, Vishnu, Lakshmi, Saraswati, Ganesh and Nandi which, depending on the family’s wealth, are made of terracotta, wood, metalwork (cooper alloys, silver or gold), stone or marble. A home may have more than one shrine and display many deities.
Folk & Ethnic Art
Folk art is traditional artistic expression that reflects shared cultural, aesthetic and social values evolving and changing with the times. It tends to be diverse, inclusive of a region’s class, status, culture, community, ethnicity, gender and religion and includes a wide range of expressive forms like dance, song, music, poetry and literature. Very versatile, folk art can be decorative or utilitarian, used for daily activities or reserved for ritual or ceremonial purposes. Usually folk pieces are handmade by local artisans, some self-taught or who have formally or informally learned skills passed down for generations. In the past, itinerant artisans sold their wares while passing through villages or created pieces reflecting tastes and needs of communities they visited. More recently folk art has become a combination of handmade, new, synthetic or recycled components and may be made for local residents where it was created or produced for income and empowerment. Similar to Folk Art, Ethnic Art is made by indigenous peoples that is mostly ritual and ceremonial and generally includes masks, carvings, textiles and body adornment. Whatever its purpose or source, folk art offers a sense of well-being that adds warmth and unique character to any room.
Source: International Folk art.org
Deities & Legends
Gods, goddesses and deified humans historically have held a significant role in Asian daily life. Gods created the world and the humans in it and keep everything safe and well-functioning. Living in the heavenly realm of immortality, they are involved in human activities from intimate moments to important events, monitoring their deeds and responding with rewards or punishment. Deities are propitiated in temples and on a home altar with offerings to protect and aid the living. In China, 200 major deities and over 1000 local village or city deities have been worshiped since ancient times. The Buddha claimed he was not a deity thus Buddhas, although venerated, are not considered deities. Among the most portrayed Chinese deities are the Jade Emperor, Queen Mother of the West, the Eight Immortals, Matsu, gods of wealth and war, and tutelary household gods that protect homes and geographical locations like the Kitchen god and the Earth gods. The most significant of the huge pantheon of Hindu deities are the Trimurti deities Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva and their respective consorts the Tridevi deities, Saraswati, Lakshmi and Parvati and Parvati’s’ son Ganesh. All are complex, identified by physical traits and symbolic implements and often ride their specific animal mount (vahana).
Ceramics & Pottery
Ceramics and pottery are general terms for clay objects which harden when fired. The 3 pottery types differ in firing temperatures and elements added to the clay.
Earthenware was fired in early times in earthen pits at 800-850° C. After kilns were invented pieces could be fired at 1000-1150 °C producing harder but still porous objects. Depending on the amount of oxygen around each piece, firing produced a range of colors. Slips minimized leakage and glaze sealed them. Chinese used it for burial items. Terracotta is a form of earthenware fired at similar temperatures but rarely glazed and fires to a brownish-red or red unless covered with a slip. Ancient Romans produced terracottas in Italy and in their North Africa territories, Mesoamerican civilizations used it for functional and ritual items, in China it was used during the Song Dynasty for bricks and in India it is used for religious and ritual items as Hindus believe it incorporates the five natural elements of air, fire, earth, water, and metal.
Stoneware requires a hotter temperature (1200-1300 °C) to produce non-porous, harder and more durable objects and could also be glazed.
Porcelain is a hard, fine-grained, sonorous (rings when struck), impervious, vitreous (glass-like) and often translucent white ware with kaolin, quartz and feldspar added to the clay to reach minimum temperatures of about 1450° C. First made in the Tang dynasty, by the Yuan dynasty porcelain was exported to the West where it was adopted as a preferred pottery form.
The VA collection includes ancient, antique, antique-vintage and vintage ceramics as well as Chinese Republic porcelains.
Guanyin, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, is the most revered female deity in Mahayana Buddhism who also became a Taoist and Popular Religion cult figure in the Ming and Qing dynasties, especially in poorer provincial regions. Far from the imperial court, local artisans created less formal, accessible and relatable images with Guanyin dressed in modest robes, simple ornaments, and humble features, wonderfully blending spiritual and folk traditions. Of Guanyin’s 33 manifestations, the most common poses at that time were Nanhai Guanyin, Songzi Guanyin, White Clad Guanyin, Meditating Guanyin and Guanyin in Lalitsana. Identifiable features are her pendulous ears, high chignon held by a diadem with an image of Amitabha Buddha or a flower and her major symbols – a parrot, sacred vial, scroll and rosary. Most of the Guanyin images placed on a home altar have been consecrated by a Taoist or Buddhist monk or priest.
Ancient art refers to the many types of art produced by advanced cultures of ancient societies having some form of writing, such as those of ancient China, India, the Mediterranean, , the Levant, Egypt, Greece and the Roman Empire, Roman North Africa and also Mesoamerican cultures during the centuries before the arrival of Europeans. The VA collection includes Chinese Han (206 BCE-220 CE) ceramics and metalwork; Mediterranean terracottas from the Holy Land Biblical Period (934-586 BCE), Magna Gracia (8-5th Century BCE), Roman Empire North Africa (27 BCE-476 CE); and Mesoamerican pottery and metalwork (800-1533 CE) and one pre-historic piece.
In Asian cultures, mythical animals fulfill cultural, spiritual and practical functions as motifs on art and artifacts and are key design elements on spiritual, decorative and utilitarian items like architecture, furniture, textiles, jewelry, clothing, containers, instruments, ceramics and other objects. Varying by countries, cultures and religions, their origin reflects legends and myths as well as religious and animist beliefs and those of shamanism. In Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and Chinese Popular Religion, they are often associated with deities, sometimes as their vahana (vehicles) and often as masks, and can symbolize spiritual goals, good fortune and averting evil. Common mythical beasts are lions, dragons, nagas, bats, phoenix, ox, fu lions, and combination of animal and human forms such as Ganesha, Garuda and imaginary beasts as a pastiche of different animals and animal parts such as the hou or taotie. All in all, it’s the world’s most fantastical zoo.
Ancestor worship – the mutual exchange between the living and the dead – has been and still is a vital aspect of Chinese religious, cultural and political life. The connections between the living and deceased are strong, mutual and reciprocal: through respect and propitiation the living assist the dead in the nether world, while the deceased provide the living blessings and protection from malevolent forces. Families honor ancestors by placing small tablets or carved ancestral images, some dressed as officials, on a home altar and larger ones in community shrines and temples and by making routine offerings of food and beverages and burning candles and incense to appease and attract ancestors’ spirits. As part of Confucianism, Taoism and Chinese Popular religion, ancestor worship is intended to enhance filial piety, family stability and family cohesion across generations. Although ancestral worship is practiced in most Asian countries, it has existed globally throughout history in various forms: sculptures, altars, plaques, buildings, monuments, gravestones, and even places. According to Stephanie Moser, ancestral representations of ancient ancestors have two purposes for all cultures: to make sense of shared ancestry and to bring prehistory to life.
Most of us view jewelry as decorative accessories – necklaces, pendants, earring, rings, bracelets, and anklets and other items – to adorn our bodies. But jewelry has played a much more serious role worldwide and historically as an integral expression of the culture where it is created and worn. Jewelry has always been a a sign of wealth, status and privileged position for families and clans and in some cultures there were rules regarding who was allowed to wear what. Jewelry has always been a way to display and adhere to spiritual and religious beliefs and sometimes a talisman to attract good fortune and avert malevolent forces. In the past it was currency to barter and trade for daily necessities, tools crops and livestock. During a deplorable time in history what was once a well accepted currency and adornment – manillas – became the currency for the African slave trade. The component and composition of jewelry are as varied as its functions. In earliest times, it was crafted from items found in nature like hides, tusks, bones, teeth, shells, pebbles, wood, coral and mineral strung on fibers. More refined forms used precious metals like copper, gold and silver with accents of precious stones and gems. Modern times have seen the switch to mass manufactured items using less expensive and synthetic materials. Our collelction spans a wide range of hand-crafted old and contemporary, and spiritual, ethic and decorative items from around the globe.
Accessories add the final touch that adds personality, characteristic and individuality to any environment. Decorative accessories embellish interior spaces and often have functional purpose. We have always been fascinated with small and utilitarian items made with such refined craftsman ship that their presence adds a unique decorative flair. Small tables that have been used as a home altar are now used to display or store items family consider significant. In more modern times these furnishings are perfect for creating a meditative space to contemplate or honor one’s family. Many vintage and antique items used for cooking and preparing foods make unique kitchen accessories. Furniture items, selected decorative wood carvings, metalwork and pottery are included in this section.
Masks, Puppets & Dolls
Masks, puppets and dolls have universally had important and similar roles: to teach history, traditions, social norms, behaviors and values reflecting each cultures spiritual and governing systems. Real and legendary leaders, heroes and deified beings are glorified using puppets, masks and dolls in public and sanctioned performances, especially for the poor and illiterate, often accompanied by music, dance and unique staging and encouraging audience participation. Used as entertainment in many forms, these props all enhance the acceptance and veneration of familiar characters, events and values and are transformative. When one puts on a mask or manipulates strings or sticks, he/she embraces the character represented. Each form has been used for cultural and spiritual inculcation, performing ceremonial rituals or accompanying rites of passage such as initiations, burials, agricultural events, feasts, dances and dramas. Our collection includes vintage pieces from Indonesia, China, India, Burma and Africa.
Spiritual & Inspirational
We have carefully selected two terms to describe our sacred pieces: Spiritual and Inspirational. Neither term needs to be religious, although objects in this section represent a reverence for and belief in spiritual power higher than ourselves. Larry Culliford states that “true art” is “…creations that reflect spiritual principles and values like beauty, creativity, honesty, generosity, discernment, patience, and perseverance… and… “forms a priceless living bridge between the everyday psychology of our minds and the universal spirit of humanity.” Rebecca Solnit states that Inspiration art, “allows us to travel somewhere else…and, serves as a means for us to escape into a different mentality and shows us a perspective of things we may not be used to or which we do not have easy access to.” Both may include meditation, contemplation and prayer components. Put simply, Inspirational and Spiritual art broaden us as human beings, expand our horizons, and hopefully bring us together by reflecting compassionate and thoughtful beliefs, whatever one’s religious tradition. VA’s collection includes statues, artifacts and ritual objects reflecting Buddhism, Hinduism, Christianity, Taoism, Popular Religion,Taoism, and Shamanism.
Larry Cullinford, “Spirituality and Art,” Psychology Today, December 2017.
Rebecca Solnit, The Faraway Nearby, Penguin Books, USA, 2012.
Teaware refers to a range of objects associated with preparing and drinking tea. According to the Chinese, tea was discovered in 2730 BCE by Emperor Shen Nong the legendary founder of Chinese Medicine and Agriculture when he was sitting under a wild tree whose leaf fell into a cup of boiling water. According to Japanese myth, the tea plant was created by the Chinese Buddhist monk Bodhidharma who fell asleep while meditating and was so disturbed by his action he tore off his eyelids and threw them on the ground and when they took root and sprouted resulted in the the world’s first tea plant. VA’s collection features a large, rare and magnificent antique carvings of Shen Nong and Bodhidharma. Since that time teapots have been a source of pride throughout Asia and Europe. In China and Japan small teapots, especially porcelain ones, have been very fashionable since the late 19th and early 20th centuries as they are easy to maintain and excellent for heat retention. Both countries share a love for cat shaped pots with paw spouts. True tea lovers favor Chinese Yixing tea wares, normally unglazed, often fired to a brown color and some decorated with enamel designs, which absorb the essence of tea flavors and minerals and produce a unique coating increasing the teas’ flavor and taste with each brewing. In Japan cast iron tetsubin teapots have been hung over fireplaces for centuries.
BROWSE THROUGH TIME
Vintage pieces are an antidote to mass-produced machine-made items. Intrinsically more interesting and embedded in history, they are generally made with higher quality materials, details, embellishments and craftsmanship and are increasingly collectible. We have also included the category Antique/ Vintage (1910-1950) to define overlapping time periods which were years of major creativity, especially in China spanning the end of the Qing Dynasty to the beginning of the Chinese Republic.
Anything over 100 years old is considered an antique, generally defined as items made before 1920. Our expanded definition includes the Pre-modern period (1200-1700) broadly defined as between the late medieval period and the 18th century. In China, this timespan includes the Ming (1368-1644) Qing (1644-1912) Dynasties and early years of the Chinese Republic (1912-1949). In Japan it includes the Edo (1603-1867) and Meiji (1869-1912) Periods.
Ancient (Pre 1200 CE)
This section includes Chinese Han (206 BCE-220 CE) ceramics and metalwork; Mediterranean terracottas from the Holy Land Biblical Period (934-586 BCE), Magna Gracia (8-5th Century BCE) , Roman Empire North Africa (27 BCE-476 CE); and Mesoamerican pottery and metalwork (800-1533 CE) .