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    Chinese Cast Bronze Guardian Figure, ca. 1600

    Appraised Value:

    $70,000 - $100,000

    Appraised on: July 23, 2011

    Appraised in: Tulsa, Oklahoma

    Appraised by: Dessa Goddard

    Category: Asian Arts

    Episode Info: Tulsa, Hour 3 (#1603)

    Originally Aired: January 16, 2012

    slideshow IMAGE: 1 of 2 Next 

    More Like This:

    Form: Figure
    Material: Bronze, Gilded
    Period / Style: 16th Century, 17th Century
    Value Range: $70,000 - $100,000

    Related Links:

    Article: Spoils of War?
    One man's family heirloom, a 400-year-old Chinese bronze his father brought home from service overseas, and how values about wartime souvenirs have changed over time.

    Owner Interview: Chinese Cast Bronze Guardian Figure, ca. 1600
    Hear more from Max, the owner of the Ming Dynasty cast bronze figure that was appraised in Tulsa for $75-$100,000!

    Understanding Our Appraisals
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    Appraisal Video: (2:48)


    Appraised By:

    Dessa Goddard
    Asian Arts

    Bonhams & Butterfields, SF

    Appraisal Transcript:
    GUEST: My dad got it in India. He was in World War II in India, on the India-Chinese border, and he brought it back with him after the war, so it's always been at our house. Matter of fact, it sat there by the fireplace. We had a dairy farm, and Dad would come in and hang his hat on it after work. (laughs)

    APPRAISER: Do you know anything more about how it was discovered? It's unusual to find something like this on the Indian border.

    GUEST: Of course, you hear stories, but I don't know exactly. But he said it was sitting on a big turtle. And his buddy in the army, he had the turtle, but he died and we lost track of where the turtle was. I did take it to a museum in Kansas City once-- there's supposed to be a Chinese expert up there-- and he said he didn't really know what it is, but he checked around and he said he thought it might be from the 12th century and it might be a feudal lord's urn, because under this... right here under this arm, you'll feel this little hole, there. It had ashes in it, human ashes.

    APPRAISER: Hmm... Very interesting story.

    GUEST: But that's, you know, that's what he said. I don't know.

    APPRAISER: It's very difficult to say that it actually contained human ashes. It may have once contained scrolls or prayers.

    GUEST: Yeah.

    APPRAISER: The museum specialist was perhaps a couple of centuries before, at least, what I think it is. I think it's 16th, 17th century Chinese. And it's very interesting that you've said that it was found with a tortoise.

    GUEST: Yeah.

    APPRAISER: The tortoise, probably the vehicle, sat right here under his foot, and it's actually the Chinese protectorate god of the north, which was seated on a black tortoise. There are four deities of the four Chinese directions-- north, south, east, and west-- and this is actually the protectorate deity of the north. This is Ming military garb, the same kind of garments that a Buddhist guardian figure would wear. There are also traces of gilding along the breastplate area, and so the statue was once gilded. Do you have any idea of value?

    GUEST: No, I have no idea.

    APPRAISER: Even without the tortoise vehicle, you're looking at a piece that could bring as much as $70,000 to $100,000 at auction.

    GUEST: Oh, man. My two brothers will be really tickled. (laughs)

    APPRAISER: It's a classic example of Ming bronze sculpture. If it was complete, it would be somewhere in the vicinity of $200,000 to $300,000.

    GUEST: Well maybe whoever's got the turtle will call me. (laughs)

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