Market meltdown leaves antiques dealers on the shelf

Updated: 2016-07-26 08:20

By Zhao Xu in Beijing and Zhang Kun in Suzhou(China Daily)

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Market meltdown leaves antiques dealers on the shelf

Xiao Guangchun, master of diancui, displays some of his work.

Base-level barometer

The twice-yearly Zhengzhou Antiques Fair used to be one of the biggest events for grassroots antiques traders. It usually ran for four or five days, as traders from all over the country congregated in Zhengzhou and checked into the four major hotels near Xu's store.

The fair was one of the annual high points for dealers and customers. "Every hotel door was open, with all the stuff lying on the beds. People could just walk in for a closer look. Some eager buyers literally ran from door to door, trying to clinch a deal before the others did," Ji recalled. "The event, although far from being high-end, is a barometer of China's antiques market at its base level. This spring, the fair's participants barely filled one hotel."

At least there is some light at the end of the tunnel. In late June and early July, the State-owned Suzhou Municipal Antique Store celebrated its 60th birthday with an antique fair attended by its counterparts from across the country.

Zhang Xiaoying, from the Suzhou Store, said the vendors, mindful of the situation, lowered the prices of their merchandise-mostly antique jade-by as much as 20 percent. "This brought in experienced collectors, who were convinced prices had reached a reasonable level," she said.

No one returned home without realizing a sale, said Li Xuejian, from the Tianjin Municipal Antique Store, who attended the party. "At least we were able to buy from each other," he said.

For Xiao, who in 2013 was officially designated a "master of China's intangible cultural heritage" by the Beijing municipal government, the market turmoil has disrupted the peace of mind that's so essential to the practice of his art. "People should understand that so many concentrated hours of work deserve a handsome financial reward," he said.


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