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6 Helpful Chinese Ornament Resource Books

When I began collecting Chinese Ornaments over 15 years ago, there was not a great deal written for Westerners on the subject. In fact, when we started the PhotoBlog, we hoped to connect with others who could fill in the huge gaps in our knowledge… a goal which has turned out rather nicely!


Bob manages to have everything in his world (including this site) on some sort of digital gizmo …he will tell me: “If all of his stuff was on paper it would weigh a ton … instead of ounces.”

Me… Well, I still really prefer the good old paper and ink… and while my shelves of art and antique reference books have diminished because of inconvenient things like moving… I still have many of my books on Chinese cultural and ornaments.

While the internet is filled with information and the search engines do a great job of helping find it… I thought I would share some of the printed books (that are still available on Amazon) which I have found helpful. So in no special order…

Dictionary of Chinese Symbols: Hidden Symbols in Chinese Life and Thought (Routledge Dictionaries) by Wolfram Eberhard (Jul 11, 1986)

Oriental Cloisonné and Other Enamels: A Guide to Collecting and Repairing by Arthur Chu (Dec 1975)

Francis: Asia’s Maritime Bead Trade by Peter Francis (Jan 1, 2002)

Four Centuries of Silver: Personal Adornment in the Qing Dynasty and After by Margaret Duda (Dec 1, 2002)

Chinese Art: A Guide to Motifs and Visual Imagery by Patricia Bjaaland Welch (Sep 10, 2012)

The History of Beads: From 100,000 B.C. to the Present, Revised and Expanded Edition by Lois Sherr Dubin (Nov 1, 2009)

I hope that you will find them useful too!

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One Comment

  1. Roland Himmler
    Posted April 3, 2013 at 9:35 am | Permalink

    I’m living in Singapore, beeing retired and since years were travelling in China chasing for seed carvings (mainly Beijing and Suzhou (Zhou Shan) area. At the end I have a collection of over 2000 different carvings (single beads and bracelets/rosaries).
    As a summary I was writing down all my knoledge, starting with some history,the carvers and their skills, Chinese beliefes, design groups up to other collections. I was not succesfull looking for a publisher (possible I did not put enough effort in it because I am not interested in selling books). The booklet has about 190 pages (A4) and a hell of colored fotos.
    If you belief there might be people interested in (there yet does not exist any book in English and only one in Chines) please let me know.

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