Navigating the Asian Collectibles Market

The U.S. collectibles market is a dynamic $7 billion industry. However, the emerging market for Asian collectibles is beginning to come to fruition in America… as well as around the world. For instance, China is quickly becoming a major center for Chinese art and antiques. New collectors and auction houses around the world appear every day selling Chinese art. Asian people, from China and elsewhere, are increasingly hungry for Oriental collectibles, decor, and art as they are making their homes all over the world.

The question becomes, How can I get good, vintage collectibles for my home, office, and family? Without a doubt, there are many collectibles that are manufactured cheaply and sold in major U.S. retail stores every year. The real challenge is finding quality collectibles from Asia that truly express the culture of the East at a fair price.

One way to gauge what “quality” means in a tangible way is to investigate the producers of Asian collectibles overseas. An example of such might be the Chinese Figurines of Shiwan. Shiwan has been called “the Ceramic Capital in China.” Shiwan is an old town in the southern part of Guangdong province. Its reputation for beautiful and elegant ceramic figurines has been famous for hundreds of years. Plus, the traditional Shiwan ceramic skills and techniques have been passed down through many generations of craftsmen.

This is one example of what quality workmanship means in the Asian homeland. In Shiwan, there is a place called “The Figurines Street.” The two craftsmen who create Oriental figurines are Master Lin Wei Dung and Master Lin Wei Ho. They are two brothers who are very well known in this particular region of China for their unsurpassed skill. Their statues have been made for many years in this region. However, they have received almost no competition because no other artists are able to match their particular level of detail in creating beautiful figurines. Their figurines are not cheap, because they are made with such superior skill that they become works of art in a short period of time!

So it goes without saying that many U.S.-based retailers get their Oriental figurines and collectibles from Oriental manufacturers. Even so, before you buy directly from overseas manufacturers always check out the details on these imported items. A safe strategy could be to visit the website or several store locations operated by “Ten Thousand Villages” here in the U.S. This company often contracts with Asian merchants overseas to bring fairly traded, authentic figurines for home decoration. They conveniently cut out all the hassle of dealing with overseas manufacturers and the expensive shipping costs that always go with the import business.

Probably the single most popular Oriental figurine is the Japanese Geisha. In consideration of the Geisha’s near feverish appeal, it is easy to understand why so many people are seeking this kind of collectible. The Japanese tradition of Geishas was an intimate part of the whole “floating world” of Japanese nightlife in old Japan. This era of the past has fascinated the west since Japan opened up to the modern world. The unique and elegant beauty of the Geishas was a result of remarkable attention to detail. The Geishas were famous for their graceful and deliberate movements, their highly refined posture, and the interesting make-up worn on their faces. Admirers of the Geisha also note their beautiful kimono and obi, as well as their distinctive hairstyle, decorative combs, and hair pins.

Once again, the most reliable factor that separates true quality figurines from other products in the Asian collectibles market is meticulous attention to detail in their construction. Bear in mind though that the more attention to detail there is the more money you will have to pay for such a vintage piece of artwork.

Another way to discover what kinds of Oriental collectibles are available to you now is to visit private collectors in your area. You might also visit your local Chinatown shops and grocers because these businesses often carry imported collectibles. This is the fastest and most direct way to find collectibles of the Asian style. Finding the right collectibles for yourself and family will take some effort though. So don’t be discouraged. Your patience will be rewarded in time. Let it be known that you are in the market for these beautiful items. Get your name, email address, and telephone number out there on the Asian internet cities. Your exciting and lucky journey begins today!

Strange Japanese Beauty Products

When it comes to innovation, nothing beats the Japanese. Our Asian friends often leave no stone unturned in their quest for beauty and perfection. That’s probably the reason why they’ve come up with lots of unusual – and sometimes silly – inventions.

To give you an idea of what I mean, here’s a brief overview of bizarre beauty products from the Land of the Rising Sun courtesy of UniqueDaily.com and 3yen.com. The products featured here are not guaranteed to work but I promise they’ll give you plenty of laughs.

Are you bothered by the size of your nose? Many Japanese women are and want to do something about their small, flat noses. The Hana Hana Nose Stretcher will change all that.

This beauty accessory is nothing more than an industrial-strength clothespin. Wear it for just a few minutes for a couple of days and it will supposedly make your nose bigger and longer. The manufacturer claims it stretches the nose cartilage to give the user a beautiful and balanced face – whatever the heck that means! At less than $7, this natural nose lift is a real bargain. Perfect for those who are afraid of plastic surgery!

Fans of the ax-wielding maniac Jason Vorhees in the Friday the 13th film series can now look like their favorite horror icon with the Face Slimmer. In Japan, a slim face is a mark of beauty. Put on this rubber mask and it supposedly massages and melts away fat from your face. No batteries required.

The Head Bath Cap looks like it was made especially for Marquis de Sade, the French aristocrat and writer of violent pornography. Put the cap over your head and fill it with water. The trapped water is said to be good for the scalp and will help you grow thicker and fuller hair. Since the cap covers the entire face and only has one opening on top, don’t wear it tightly or you could drown in the damned thing!

Want to look taller? Then the Neck Stretcher is for you! Just place this accordion-like device around your neck and fill it with air with the included hand pump. In minutes, it will stretch your neck and hopefully increase your height. Warning: overuse of this product can make you look like a giraffe!

The Slim Mouth Piece supposedly exercises the muscles around the mouth to help you lose fat. The manufacturer said it tones your face by expanding and contracting flaccid facial muscles. Use it for only 2-3 minutes a day to “sharpen your features.”

“Despite its misleading name, this gadget is supposed to make your mouth bigger, not smaller. Bigger? Yes, bigger. Who on earth would want this? Well, the theory is that if you widen your mouth, you will have the appearance of a small face, so prized by the Japanese,” said an unnamed English teacher in “Fungus Mungus’ Weird Stuff in Japan.”

Exercising the mouth sounds like a good idea. But if you ask me, that area gets all the exercise it needs from smiling, talking and eating. Still, the Slim Mouth Piece would make a good conversation piece. Get yours for $9.50.

If you’re looking for a natural way to eliminate fine lines and wrinkles without having to go through the pains of costly plastic surgery or cosmetic injections, don’t waste time going to Japan. The solution is right here with the Rejuvinol AM/PM Botox Alternative Age-Defying System. This powerful anti-aging formula consists of the Rejuvinol morning moisturizer that nourishes and strengthens the skin; and the Rejuvox night cream that relaxes tense, tired facial muscles.

Asian Lily Beetles – A New Garden Threat

Anyone genuinely interested in Nature – while perhaps naive enough to believe in its absolute innocence – might think the small, bright fiery-orange beetle that’s suddenly materialized in their gardens is strikingly beautiful and perfectly harmless. About the size of a rather narrow ladybug without spots, it almost sparkles as it seems to sun itself on the leaves and emerging flower buds of Asiatic and Oriental hybrid lilies.

In fact, the appearance of innocence and beauty is totally misleading…if not downright deceptive. Early spring sunbathing is clearly not what it has in mind! Lilioceris lilii. Asian Lily Beetle, aka Lily Leaf Beetle, is focusing its entire attention on filling its belly and finding a mate. When those two primary goals have been fulfilled, watch out! Your beautiful lilies are about to vanish. And if you have no hybrid lilies but concentrate on growing fruits and vegetables, your tomatoes, potatoes, eggplants and peppers (nightshades) are in serious jeopardy.

Where did they come from? Asian Lily Beetles first appeared in Boston a little over a dozen years ago, probably stowaways in plants imported from abroad…quite possibly China. Rapidly spreading throughout Massachusetts and points north, by 1999 they had worked their way up the New England coast to Brunswick, then inland areas…finally reaching the Mid-Coast and more than a few miles inland to the west, devastating lilies as they traveled. Now they have occupied very nearly every agricultural and horticultural area in several eastern states and three Canadian provinces and, in my opinion – and that of a great many other horticultural/entomological professionals – will soon surpass the populations and crop damage done by the dreaded Japanese Beetles (Popillia japonica).

Adult Lily Leaf Beetles over-winter in the soil or in un-cleaned-up plant debris after fall frost. Following emergence during early spring, they mate and quickly deposit between 200 and 300 tiny dull-orange eggs on the undersides of leaves, in clusters of two to ten. Hatch occurs in five to ten days after which larvae feed for between 16 and 24 days, growing rapidly to about twice the size of their parents. It is at this point that they are feeding heavily. Highly vulnerable to predacious insects during this “soft” feeding stage, larvae cover themselves in their own sticky, mud-like excrement (droppings) as a highly effective defense against attack. Most gardeners describe them as looking like small dirty slugs. If you scrape the feces away, you’ll see a soft, dull-red beetle whose wing cases have as yet to harden.

At about this point, larvae either crawl or drop to the ground where they pupate in secreted cocoons. In under 25 days, a fully mature adult emerges to begin the process anew. There can be as many as three such generations in a single season. To make matters worse, it is possible for female beetles who have deposited their eggs for the current season to survive a second winter and lay another huge clutch of eggs the following year. Allow me to do the math for you: One mature female beetle x 200 x 200 x 200 = 8,000,000 at a minimum. And that’s in our short New England growing season. Alfred Hitchcock would’ve had a field day with those numbers!

What else will they attack? An all-time dietary favorite is fritillary (Fritillaria sp.), but are most often seen on Asiatic, Oriental, and “tiger” lilies (Lilium sp.), lily of the valley (Convallaria majalis), Solomon’s seal (Polygonatum multiflorum), certain vegetables, and occasionally other common garden perennials when their favorites are either not present or already consumed.

How are they controlled? Best of all is daily scouting of your garden, hand-picking or knocking adults into a jar of soapy water, or spraying with one of the products described below. There are two natural “pesticides” effective in the control of Asian Lily Beetles:

1. NEEM, a biochemical pest control substance extracted from the tropical Neem tree. It affects the insect while in its larval stage by interrupting molting, and may also serve to repel adults.

2. PYRETHRIN, a product extracted from common painted daisies (Pyrethrum sp.), may be sprayed on plants to control both adults and larval stages. I consider Pyrethrin to be the best choice.

I have also noted that RESMETHRIN – a synthetic form of Pyrethrin found in formulations for garden foggers – destroys the larval form.

All of these insecticides are commonly stocked by large, retail garden centers, and less reliably at “big-box” stores. As always, read and observe all labeling information. Wear protective gloves when handling or applying, and wash thoroughly when the job’s done. Even though they’re considered “natural”, there’s no point in taking any chances with your health or that of your loved ones.

One last thought: The true key to controlling population numbers of this new and highly destructive villain in your garden, in the words of Alistair “Mad-Eye” Moody of Harry Potter fame: CONSTANT VIGILANCE! We must be ruthless and unyielding in our search for and destruction of every Asian Lily Beetle we encounter! The future of hybrid and tiger lilies in our gardens depends on it.