In my opinion, Asian smalls are pieces I can hold in my hands and, boy, have I had the pleasure of handling some wonderful pieces! Asian smalls are those objects you find in a curio cabinet, and I personally have collected them as a dealer and for my home. They can run the gamut from gilt bronze figures to shapely porcelain vases.
All societies in Asia have made great pieces at different times. I'm amazed by Japanese metalwork of the 19th century. I really enjoy the mixed metal vases made by Japanese artists. You can see in the finer hand-worked examples the hundreds of hours that went into each piece.
I think Chinese artisans made some of the finest porcelain items imaginable. They have produced it for hundreds of years with some pieces so fine they are called eggshell porcelain. To me, they appear so fragile, yet so strong and hard.
Also, scholars' objects have been crafted throughout Asia for centuries; items like brush holders, water coupes, and scroll weights are popular today, and can go for high prices.
Today, when antique objects of all sizes and from all of Asia sell for exorbitant amounts of money, for my money it's the small, fine items that should stay at the top of the collector's list.
To see more examples of Asian smalls, check out these appraisals from