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  • Writer's pictureAnthony Wu

Happy Chinese New Year! It's the Year of the Dog!

Happy Chinese New Year! February 16 2017 marks the beginning of the year of the dog (and the end of the year of the rooster). In the Chinese Zodiac, people born in the year of the dog are known to be loyal, serious and hardworking. Here's a good link to the characteristics of those born in the dog year, including their interactions with people from other zodiac signs, potential job prospects and lifestyle choices.

In Chinese Art, dogs have been appearing in art objects for over 3000 years! They can be depicted on porcelain, textiles, paintings and sculptures. Dogs are often portrayed as hunting buddies, guardians and domestic pets. Dog are associated with all classes and can be companions to farmers and fishermen, and to members of the imperial court.

I've compiled a quick list of dogs in Chinese art that I have come across over my travels.

1. A Green Glazed Earthenware Dog, China, Han Dynasty (206 BC - 220 AD) from the Royal Ontario Museum.

This cute little guy is a tomb figurine and would have been a companion to its owner in the afterlife.

Earthenware Dog, Han Dynasty

2. A Yaozhou Model of a Seated Dog, China, Song Dynasty (960-1279) from the Guimet Museum in Paris

The figure on the left is one of the most memorable Chinese dogs I have seen in the past two years. Depictions of dogs from the Yaozhou kilns are rare in itself, but this particular example is incredible in it realism, fierce features and musculature. Next to it is a stunning example of a Yaozhou Bowl, also from the Song Dynasty.

Yaozhou Dog, Song Dynasty

3. A Blackware Model of a Dog, China, Song to Yuan Dynasty (12th - 13th Century) from the Hong Kong Heritage Museum

Another stunning example of a ceramic dog from my Hong Kong trip in December. The details in this piece is quite amazing with its long mane and ferocious face.

Black Ware Model of a Dog, Song to Yuan Dynasty

4. An Export Blue and White Landscape Platter, China, Late 18th Century

This is one of my favourite pieces that I have come across during my estate house-calls. The item itself is quite common on the grand scheme of Chinese art, but I was particularly fond of the wonderful painting. It depicts a young lady on a river raft being joined by a little dog.

These types of pieces would have been exported a Western audience in Europe or North America - they were highly collectable, especially to those enamoured by what daily-life in China may have looked like.

Export Blue and White Platter, 18th Century (detail)

Export Blue and White Platter, 18th Century

5. An Arita Porcelain Model of a Puppy, Japan, Circa 1680 from the Gardiner Museum

This isn't really related to Chinese New Year but still an excellent example of an East Asian dog. The features are quite cute and this guy would have been exported to Europe or North America where Japanese porcelain was extremely popular.

Arita Puppy, Japan 1680

6. Giant Sculpture of a Dog, Fashion Walk Mall, Taiyun, China

There is a mall in China that celebrates every Chinese New Year by creating a giant statue of the year's zodiac animal... and they all happen to have the attributes of a a certain American politician. I mentioned the rooster version in my blog last year, and a full article of this year's dog sculpture can be found in this link.

Taiyun Donald Trump Dog Sculpture

That's it for now. 2017 and the Year of the Rooster turned out to be a pretty good year for my art advising business - I've had three published articles in Orientations Magazine, wrote numerous smaller blog posts on, and received my certification in Chinese Fine Art through the Appraisers Association of America (AAA).

I've also been fortunate enough to work on some major collections of Asian art in in Toronto, Vancouver and New York with respect to their research, collection management, and collection building. Hopefully 2018 and the Year of the Dog will be just as exciting!

Anyways, I really appreciate all my followers who have been reading my blogs, checking out my Instagram feed and sending me referrals. If you ever come across anyone who needs their Asian Artworks and Antiques valued or appraised, please send them my way.

As many of you know, even though I specialize and consult primarily in Chinese porcelain, paintings and Buddhist sculpture, I also cover artwork from Japan, Korea, the Himalayan Region, India, Southeast Asia, and the Islamic World. ​If you have any questions or comments, please send me an email.

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