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 email@example.com to schedule an appointment for a call, zoom or mobile phone video session.
For a detailed look at some of our favorite topics and themes across our collection, click the Blog link below:
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 or Tantric (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 monks-robes. Images recall his major life events: his Miraculous Birth as Infant-Buddha, Enlightenment and First Sermon. Usually portrayed seated with legs crossed (padmasana), his hand mudras are: Dhyana-Mudra (meditation), Bhumisparsha-Mudra (earth witnessing), Abhaya-Mudra (freedom from fear), Dharmachakra-Mudra (teaching) and others. Buddhas also include Amitabha-Buddha, Vairocana and the 5 Dyhani-Buddhas and other localized Southeast Asia images like Jambupati-Buddha (Buddha as King). Often placed in meditation spaces, Buddha images generate positive and relaxing energy to help concentration.
Wall art is a vital element in home design – not just to fill a blank wall, but also to provide focus, coordinate design elements, and bring depth and dimensionality, sculptural form, plays of shadows and light, and even greenery to your home or work environment. Once restricted to paintings, prints, hangings, or photos displayed independently or within a “gallery wall,” wall décor offers a dynamic way to create an aesthetic that features your unique taste and favored art forms. Thoughtful wall design integrates individual works or collections that include mounted pieces, masks, folk-art, tribal-Art, arts and crafts pieces, wood panels and doors, screens, manuscripts, fragments of larger pieces, dried or live florals, functional-and-utilitarian objects, framed jewelry, textiles – the list is endless. The VA Wall Art Collection currently contains only a small part of our pieces such as masks, carvings, brick tiles, chopsticks holders, textiles and confection molds but will be expanded soon and features items from China, Indonesia, Burma/Myanmar, Russia and more. For fascinating suggestions, check out 20 Best Wall Decor Ideas to Decorate Your Blank Wall at https://foyr.com/learn/best-wall-decor-ideas/.
Hindu Ritual Art
Hindu-Cultural-and-Ritual Art appears in temples and in home settings. 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 and making offerings of 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 lamps (diya), incense holder, incense, water container, spoon and kumkum container for colored powders to apply a tikka to a devotee’s forehead. Shrines also hold sacred deity images (murti) to contain each deity’s essence and demonstrate worshipers love and devotion. The most common altar deities in Hinduism 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 & Tribal Art
Folk-Art is artistic expression reflecting shared cultural, aesthetic, and social values evolving and changing over time. It tends to be diverse, inclusive of a region’s class, status, culture, community, ethnicity, and religion and includes art, dance, song, music, poetry and literature. It can be decorative or utilitarian-and-functional, used for daily activities or reserved for ritual or ceremonial purposes and items are generally handmade by local artisans, some self-taught or with 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 local tastes and needs of communities they visited. More recently, it has become a combination of handmade, synthetic, recycled, or new components and may be for local use or produced for income and empowerment. Ethnic-Art is made by indigenous peoples, while Tribal-Art refers to the arts and culture of a social group (tribe) of families/clans sharing language, customs, and beliefs and whose affiliation is above all others. Both produce mostly ritual or ceremonial objects that generally include masks, carvings, textiles, and body adornment. Whatever its original purpose or source, folk, ethnic, and tribal art offer an authentic and personalized sense of vitality that adds depth and character to any environment.
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-and-Legends 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 Taoist-Deities including the Jade Emperor, Queen-Mother of the West, the Eight-Immortals, Matsu; Wealth- Gods and War-Gods and tutelary house-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) such as Nandi.
Ceramics & Pottery
Ceramics-and-pottery are general terms for clay objects which harden when fired. The 3 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. An added slip minimizes leakage and a glaze seals them. Chinese used it for burial items called mingqi. 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 Roman-North-Africa territories, Mesoamerican civilizations used it for functional and ritual items, in China it was used during the Song Dynasty for brick-tiles and in India it is used for religious and ritual items and Indian-Folk-Art 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 minerals 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, especially for teaware.
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-Robed-Guanyin, Guanyin in Dhyana-mudra (meditation), and Guanyin in Lalitsana. Identifiable features are her pendulous ears, high chignon held by a diadem with an Amitabha-Buddha or a flower and her major symbols – parrots, sacred vial, scroll and rosary. Most of the Guanyin images placed on a home altar have been consecrated in an eye-opening ceremony 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 (Alexandria), Greece (Graeco-Roman), the Roman Empire, Roman-North-Africa, Magna-Graecia and 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-Graecia. (8-5th Century BCE), the Roman-Empire (27 BCE-476 CE)), and Roman-North-Africa; Mesoamerican pottery and metalwork (800-1533 CE), and one Texas paleolithic spear point.
In Asia, 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 such as architecture, furniture, textiles, jewelry, clothing, instruments, ceramics and other objects. Varying by countries, cultures and religions, their origin reflects legends and myths as well as traditional religious traditions and animism and shamanism beliefs. In Buddhism, Hinduism, Taoism and Chinese Popular Religion, they are often associated with deities, sometimes as their vahana (vehicle) and often are represented as masks that symbolize spiritual goals, good fortune and averting evil. Common mythical beasts are lions, dragons, nagas, bats, phoenix, fu-lions, and combined animal and human forms such as Ganesh, Garuda and imaginary beasts as a pastiche of different animals or animal parts such as the hou or taotie. All in all, it’s the world’s most fantastical zoo.
Ancestral veneration has been practiced in most Asian countries in various forms: sculptures, masks, home altars, plaques, buildings, monuments, gravestones, and even places. Stephanie Moser states that ancestral representations have two purposes: to make sense of shared ancestry and to bring prehistory to life. The connections between the living and deceased are believed to be reciprocal: through respect and propitiation the living assist the dead in the nether world, while the deceased provide the living blessings and protection. Ancestor-worship, the mutual exchange between the living and the dead, has been a vital part of Chinese religious, cultural and political life intended to enhance filial piety, family stability and cohesion across generations. Families honor ancestors by placing tablets or ancestor-figures on a home altar and larger ones in community shrines and temples and by making routine offerings to appease and attract ancestors’ spirits.
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 collection of of hand-crafted antique, vintage and contemporary jewelry a wide range of 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 as Folk-Art 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. Some masks are a distinct form of Tribal-Art. Our collection includes vintage pieces from Indonesia, China, India, Burma and Africa.
Spiritual & Inspirational
We have carefully selected 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 broadens 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 (including Mahayana, Theravada, Chan and Tantric-Buddhism sects), Hinduism, Christianity, Taoism, Popular Religion,Taoism, Animism 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. The Chinese believe tea was discovered in 2730 BCE by Emperor Shen Nong when he was sitting under a wild tree whose leaf fell into a cup of boiling water while the Japanese believe, the tea plant was created by the Indian Buddhist monk Bodhidharma who fell asleep while meditating and was so disturbed by his action he tore off his eyelids, threw them on the ground, and when they sprouted resulted in the first tea plant. VA’s collection features large and magnificent antique carvings of both Shen Nong and Bodhidharma. Teapots have been a source of pride throughout Asia and Europe. In China and Japan small-teapots, especially porcelain ones, have been fashionable since the late 19th and early 20th centuries as they are easy to maintain and excellent for heat retention. Both share a love for cat-teapots with paw spouts. True tea lovers favor Chinese Yixing stoneware unglazed teaware which absorbs the essence of tea flavors and minerals that increases the teas’ flavor 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) .