Chinese Wooden Guanyin Figure, 1200 - 1500

Value (2016) | $20,000 Insurance

This is a Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy. And she's sitting on some lotus leaves. This came into the family when my parents bought a house in Hawaii. The house was fully furnished with antiques and furniture and whatever.

One of the things that's interesting about this is the face-- the kind of pinched, narrow face, the downcast eyes, the aquiline nose, the pursed lips. The mouth is very small and tight, which is not typically characteristic of things you would find in the Ming Dynasty. The other element that I find interesting is the crown, and you notice that this is covered with small, little jeweled ornaments- pearls, basically. And that those are mimicked here at the necklace on the open chest. And that is a kind of tiered pearl necklace, and that's also something you do get in the Ming Dynasty, but you also get from a slightly earlier period. So with sculpture, we're looking at the way the robes fall, the very sharp lines of these robes as it falls over the body and it kind of cascades over the hands. You'll notice that there's an old repair here. This iron repair. And on the front, the upright leaves of the lotus are very sharp and crisp, and they're actually overlarge. Those are things that are kind of indicative, to me, that this was likely made in a more provincial area. If you look at the face, you see the discoloration, the darkness. That is from many, many, many years of incense swirling around the head.

I see.

Once this was brilliantly painted, bright colors, probably heightened with gold. And what we're looking at is that core surface. So we have very few pigments that are remaining, but we do see some. We see traces of red here. We see some green up here at the top, bits of ochre, and then the bare wood. Now, the wood is called nanmu, and it was chosen because it's a very durable, stable wood that doesn't change shape, and it's also resistant to decay. It's always nice to be able to pinpoint a date. Sometimes it's hard to do. So this is one of those cases. It displays characteristics, I think, of a period called the Liao Dynasty, which was 907 to 1125.


Which precedes the Ming. The Ming is 1368 to 1644. And I'm inclined to believe that it could easily be from that period. But even if it isn't, it's displaying many of those characteristics. In terms of an insurance figure, I would feel pretty comfortable with about $20,000.


Appraisal Details

Lark Mason Associates
New York, NY
Update (2016)
$20,000 Insurance
Appraised value (2012)
$20,000 Insurance
Boston, MA (June 09, 2012)
Asian Arts

Executive producer Marsha Bemko shares her tips for getting the most out of ANTIQUES ROADSHOW.

Value can change: The value of an item is dependent upon many things, including the condition of the object itself, trends in the market for that kind of object, and the location where the item will be sold. These are just some of the reasons why the answer to the question "What's it worth?" is so often "It depends."

Note the date: Take note of the date the appraisal was recorded. This information appears in the upper left corner of the page, with the label "Appraised On." Values change over time according to market forces, so the current value of the item could be higher, lower, or the same as when our expert first appraised it.

Context is key: Listen carefully. Most of our experts will give appraisal values in context. For example, you'll often hear them say what an item is worth "at auction," or "retail," or "for insurance purposes" (replacement value). Retail prices are different from wholesale prices. Often an auctioneer will talk about what she knows best: the auction market. A shop owner will usually talk about what he knows best: the retail price he'd place on the object in his shop. And though there are no hard and fast rules, an object's auction price can often be half its retail value; yet for other objects, an auction price could be higher than retail. As a rule, however, retail and insurance/replacement values are about the same.

Verbal approximations: The values given by the experts on ANTIQUES ROADSHOW are considered "verbal approximations of value." Technically, an "appraisal" is a legal document, generally for insurance purposes, written by a qualified expert and paid for by the owner of the item. An appraisal usually involves an extensive amount of research to establish authenticity, provenance, composition, method of construction, and other important attributes of a particular object.

Opinion of value: As with all appraisals, the verbal approximations of value given at ROADSHOW events are our experts' opinions formed from their knowledge of antiques and collectibles, market trends, and other factors. Although our valuations are based on research and experience, opinions can, and sometimes do, vary among experts.

Appraiser affiliations: Finally, the affiliation of the appraiser may have changed since the appraisal was recorded. To see current contact information for an appraiser in the ROADSHOW Archive, click on the link below the appraiser's picture. Our Appraiser Index also contains a complete list of active ROADSHOW appraisers and their contact details and biographies.