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Art in different regions of the Far East

In this post, we are going to give more details about the peculiarities of art in different regions of the Far East. Each territory boosted certain specific artistic movements. In the event that they were expanded to other places, each one ended up using unique artistic techniques, as a result of the variations to which they were subjected by each artistic movement. You will find a wide range of items on Oriental art online auctions. Here we explain the specific features of each region.

Indonesia and Indochina

Both areas are under the influence of the Indian subcontinent. In Java, as in other parts of Indonesia, Buddhism coexisted with Brahmanism, which logically influenced the iconography of its early art. When Marco Polo’s ships returned from China and were on their way to the Persian Gulf in 1292, they stopped in Sumatra, but were unable to find art forms.

Cultural contacts became active when the Dutch East India Company was established there. The dagger known as “kris”, with a wavy profile blade, was one of the distinctive pieces of local Malaysian creativity and it is especially appreciated in Europe by gun collectors. In Java and Bali, the so-called “shadow theatres” featured articulated figures in leather or wood, which have also aroused the interest of collectors.

Indochina, in turn, and particularly Vietnam, was influenced by China, as we can see in the reproduction of lacquered pieces. In the 19th Century, rich marquetry works were created, using inked mother-of-pearl and inlays on sumptuous fine woods, mainly to be exported. Furniture such as desks, side tables, armchairs or large trays were made using that technique and they were even exhibited in European international exhibitions.


Also dependent on the powerful Chinese civilization, Korea used the communication by sea rather than by land with the nearby cultures. Between 10th and 14th Century, a refined celadon ceramic art was developed in that region, which produced such outstanding pieces that it is even considered that they sometimes rival or surpass Chinese models. From the 15th Century onwards, the use of porcelain was prevailing; its key feature was the decoration with simple and spontaneous lines, which usually gave vases and bowls an appearance of natural and modern expression, better than other oriental contemporaries.

The Philippines

The Spanish presence in the Philippines since the 16th Century also boosted a unique art that was a very good reflection of the union of both cultures. Not surprisingly, an exotic material such as ivory was widely developed in that region, producing pieces of furniture with inlays or embossed or round sculptures. Many of those pieces can be found in different auction houses in Madrid and Barcelona.

Religious works made by local craftsmen were based on models that were frequently reproduced during the 17th and 18th Centuries, such as Immaculates or Crucified Christs, or particular iconographies such as images of Child Jesus as the Good Shepherd. Wooden items, such as coffers or armchairs, have had a considerable prestige in Spain since the 19th Century, and they were occasionally imported into the cities to decorate bourgeois houses.