Hunting for treasures in Beijing’s Antique furniture markets

antique furniture hunting in Beijing

This past weekend, ACF China and  The Hutong organized a field trip for local expats here in Beijing to visit an genuine outdoor wholesale antique market, where peasants from the countryside bring un-restored antique furniture and other curios to sell to wholesalers, collectors and restorers. The trip proved a success, allowing attendees a fascinating peek directly into the hidden corners of the antiques industry. A bit dusty, a bit dirty, and situated on the far outskirts of Beijing, this market exists solely through word of mouth and is not found on any map or guidebook. Chris Buckley, owner of Torana Carpets and author of the book “Tibetan Furniture” accompanied us on our excursion and his own post about our tip on his RugDogBlog sums up our trip much better then I can:

“In years gone by furniture vendors from the countryside came right into the city to sell their furniture, but these days with increasing ground rents and lack of space in the city the trade is conducted much further out from the city, in this case about 45 minutes drive from Guo Mao. This spot is strictly a wholesale market, with unrestored items piled high in the warehouses of individual sellers from different parts of China.

In a couple of hours we were only able to scratch the surface of what is a very large market. We visited several vendors from north China (Shanxi and Inner Mongolia), though apparently there are sellers at the market from most regions. It’s been a long time since I have looked at wholesale furniture like this (the last time I looked at it seriously was back in the mid-90s) and it was reassuring to see that there is still old furniture out there! Vendors are now going a lot further afield for their old furniture than in the ’90s and many are bringing in furniture from the border regions versus the central China styles that were more common in previous years.

antique chinese dresser

Though this particular trip was not a buying trip, we will organize future excursions, buying trips and longer outings, so check back here regularly and/or on  The Hutong‘s Website for upcoming dates.  Thanks to Chris Buckley for tagging along and for providing the wonderful group photos shown here.

antique furniture hunting in Beijing china

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6 Comment

  1. Janeen Cameron says:

    Thanks for a Very interesting morning – keep us posted on any new ideas for further feild trips.

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  3. Mike says:

    Hi, nice posts there :-) thank’s for the interesting information

  4. alice says:

    wow, looks like an amazing trip! i would sell my left foot to go antiquing in beijing. i guess i’ll have to settle for searching for finds on ebay and antiquespider! keep up the good posts, you’re a great read!


  5. John says:

    Missed this market when I was in Beijing last Fall. Thanks for letting me know about it.

  6. Danielle says:

    Enjoyed the last Beijing field trip to the Chinese antique wholesale market very much! The trip was informative on various levels: from understanding and looking at different regional styles of provincial furniture, assessing quality, understanding possible ways of restoration for a particular piece, and the highlight: finding a museum-quality altar table in the back of an old warehouse – just stunning! Roger of ACF is an excellent and knowledgable guide and teacher, taking us to places not open to the general public. Thanks for a great day and will post photos soon (need to figure out how to upload!) :) Look forward to more tours and future classes!

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