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Subject:Antique shopping in Indonesia - Any good?
Posted By: TimG Sat, Sep 29, 2018 IP:

Let me start by saying that my thoughts and prayers go out to the people of Indonesia who have been affected by the earthquake and subsequent tsunami, and prayers for a speedy recovery.

Recently I met a couple who have a small gift shop in the USA and offer antiquing tours to Indonesia. In my opinion, most of the items they had were not antique, but they did have some Ming, Yuan, and Song porcelains/pottery that appeared to be genuine 'people's ware' (minyao).

Can anyone tell me what the restrictions are on buying antiquities in Indonesia and bringing them back to the USA? Do they have stringent restrictions on items over 100 years old similar to China?


Subject:Re: Antique shopping in Indonesia - Any good?
Posted By: RogerD Mon, Oct 01, 2018

I have hada home in Indonesia since 1990, and have spent many hours shopping and scouting for antiques in the major cities and countryside. While you may be able to make a rare find, the majority of the "antiques" are well-made fakes. Most tours include Jalan Surabaya in Jakarta, a street packed with shops offering pottery, porcelain, bronze etc. "antiques" of which 99.9% are fakes. Genuine antiques are available in some exclusive stores, but they are not cheap. Indonesia is a very interesting country and the fine craftsmanship can easily sway you into buying some beautiful fakes.

Below is a picture of some shops on Jalan Surabaya.

Subject:Re: Antique shopping in Indonesia - Any good?
Posted By: TimG Tue, Oct 02, 2018

Thank you for the response.
The photo you posted shows a lot of what appears to be metal objects - the shop owner here in the USA also had quite a lot of metal (possibly bronze) buddhas and vessels which I felt were reproductions, so this seems to support my feeling.

Can you share with me any information regarding Chinese porcelain reproductions sold in Indonesia?

My local shop had numerous Ming minyao (people's ware) bowls from the 15-16th c. These pieces looked genuine, as I have hundreds of these pieces of my own and they have only modest value ($50-200 each).

However, the shop had 2 larger blue and white porcelains that appeared of fine quality, a fish bowl that appeared to be a 19th c piece, and a blue and white jar with Ming markings, but also looked 19th c.

My question to you (if you know) is how good are their porcelain reproductions? Do they use wood/coal kilns to reproduce genuine looking glazes? Are they importing Chinese fakes, then reselling them as original?

I realize this is a difficult question to answer, but if you are willing to share your personal experiences, both successes and failures, it would be extremely helpful.

Very gratefully yours,

Subject:Re: Antique shopping in Indonesia - Any good?
Posted By: RogerD Wed, Oct 03, 2018

The picture I sent was just a random shot of a shop on Jalan Surabaya, but there are about 3 blocks of similar shops with some specializing in pottery, bronze, carving, etc. Generally, if you mention a certain item you are looking for the shopkeeper will bring out a hidden "valuable antique" and the word will instantly travel to the other shops. As you continue along the way, shopkeepers will start bringing out items you have expressed interest in.

Chinese porcelain items are not plentiful. One or two pieces may be available from a shop and some are very good replicas. I believe that they are brought in from Singapore and China. I am not certain if it is still there, but when I lived in Singapore 1990 - 1996, excellent reproductions of Ming and Qing porcelain pieces were produced at the Ming Village on Pandan Rd. I believe many of these reproductions wound up in Indonesia.

There are hundreds of ceramic kilns throughout Indonesia, but the major porcelain kilns produce commercial and houseware pieces.

I have heard that some Chinese style porcelains are made at kilns in Sarawak, the Malaysian part of Borneo, by Chinese immigrants who settled there in the early 1800s. The area is well known for its pottery kilns and some porcelain production may be there also. I have also heard that some authentic Ming pieces have been found there among the descendants of the original Chinese immigrants. Most of Borneo belongs to Indonesia and is called Kalimantan. The north side is the Malaysian state of Sarawak. Both areas produce beautiful urns (guci) in all sizes in Chinese styles.

If I can be of help, please let me know.

Subject:Re: Antique shopping in Indonesia - Any good?
Posted By: Michael O Thu, Oct 04, 2018

Hi Roger and Tim,

Ming Village in Singapore has closed permanently. What I have been seeing over the past few years, are the movements of sunken ceramics to shops in Singapore. This has, of course, been happening since the 1970s but the quality and quantity of late are different. There are quite a large number of Ming and Qing period ceramics these days compared to low quality Ming and Sung pieces in the 1980s.

My advice is not to shop in Jakarta. As Roger says, you are more likely to encounter fakes and more fakes. The best way to shop for real Chinese porcelain in Indonesia is to get in touch with a trusted dealer through contacts in Singapore or Indonesia.

I do not shop much in Indonesia, except for a couple of Thai sawankhalok covered bowls in Bandung and some blue and white bowls in Pulau Pinang, but these are not "high end" stuff.

Good luck to your antiquing in Indonesia. If you dont get good antiques, at least you will enjoy the sun and sea and lovely islands that Indonesia has to offer.

Hi Roger, when will you be visiting Singapore again?

Subject:Re: Antique shopping in Indonesia - Any good?
Posted By: RogerD Tue, Oct 09, 2018

Michael O:
I have all but given up searching for real Chinese antiques in Indonesia in favor of well-made Indonesian art. My home is near Tomohon in North Sulawesi so I have little opportunity to search unless I travel to Java.

My normal schedule is JAL from San Francisco to Tokyo/Jakarta, so I rarely go through Singapore anymore. If I do select a flight through Singapore, I will let you know.
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