InMiller Gaffney found a carved wood rooster to meet the target round challenge of Asian smalls. The rooster stood less than two feet tall and faced forward with carved eyes and a red-painted beak. It was small and from Asia, but Miller's opponents questioned whether it was legal to buy or sell. Was this rooster an ordinary fowl, or a foul play?
The dealer said he purchased the rooster in Mandalay more than 20 years ago. Mandalay is a large city and former royal capital in Burma/Myanmar. (Military authorities re-named this large South Asian country Myanmar in 1989, but the US government maintains an official policy of calling it Burma.) In 2003, the US Congress passed a law banning imports from Myanmar, with the aim of putting pressure on its military leaders.
Antique objects can be caught in this crossfire, and buyers might want to consider provenance when shopping. Questions to ask include: When did this object leave the country? Who bought it? Did they have permission to bring it into the country where it's being offered for sale?
In the case of the rooster, its provenance indicates which side of the law it crows upon, since it entered the US 20 years ago, prior to the ban. And, in the few months since Miller found the rooster,as the country moves toward democratic reform, and in November 2012, President Obama became the first sitting US president to visit the country.
Changes in international relations determine political policies, and can also affect personal purchases. Along with import bans, and sanctions, the collector might want to consider customs and antiquities laws. Each nation determines how to preserve and protect its objects for future generations. For example, Myanmar does not permit the export of antiquities without special permission. Whether buying around the corner or around the world, it's a good idea to find out the relevant laws about importing and exporting.
Travel guidebooks can be a starting point for shopping abroad, as well as the.
As thisput it, “most antiques raise no ethical issues beyond routine fair-business practices: The seller must be honest in advertising and describing the merchandise and the buyer must negotiate in good faith and pay promptly.”
Written by MARKET WARRIORS production assistant Rebecca Taylor.