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Tuesday, January 19, 2010

More Than Just a China Cabinet

Years ago, during our homestudy process to adopt the Tongginator, I distinctly remember our social worker asking us if our home contained any Chinese or Asian-American art, literature, textiles and the like. The answer - at that moment in time - was nope... nada... zip. Since that first interview, the husband and I began devouring books about Chinese culture, learning as much as we could and bringing elements that we love into our home. It's not much (and some of it is from Tar-zhey), but I thought I would share a few photos today.

Mostly because I've been playing around with the photo editing software Picasa. (It's totally addictive, y'all.)

a small glimpse into our library, with Fu Dog bookends

gorgeous art created by Master Papercutter Hou-Tien Cheng
(and just ignore the flash ... I never claimed to be a photographer)

Korean art painted by a family friend who lives in Seoul

chopsticks purchased in Guangzhou

the oh-so-classy piece from Tar-zhey, although the
character? Really is accurate. It is xi, said in the third
tone, meaning happiness, delight and gladness

left: an antique Chinese filing cabinet ... right: a calligraphy
scroll purchased in San Francisco's Chinatown in 2006
largest character is ai, said in the fourth tone, meaning love)

a few of our Chinese and China-adoptive DVDs ... we
also own several music CDs, including one from our
favorite Taiwanese Indy-Rock artist, Deserts Chang

two of our most cherished pieces ... on the left: a plate
purchased by my maternal grandfather, during his trip to
China in the late 1970's ... on the right: a gift from the
Director of the Tongginator's orphanage, given to her on
her adoption day (we're just keeping it safe at the moment)

more artwork, although this time we simply matted and
framed postage stamps we purchased in the capital city
of the Tongginator's province during our adoption trip

a gift from friends who happen to be Chinese-American

a small chest and table runner that sit in our dining room

several of y'all commented on this global piece a while back

We could do so much more in this regard, despite the obsessive Panda Room and the Tongginator's treasured 100 Good Wishes quilt. Every year, we try to add more Asian and Asian-American inspired cultural items to our home because it's something small that we love to do for the Tongginator and ourselves. No, we will never "be" Chinese-American in a cultural sense, but we can at least incorporate some things so that Chinese and Asian-American art aren't completely foreign to the Tongginator.

Do y'all have any treasured pieces in your homes that are from countries near and dear to your hearts?

[ Edited to Add: Rosemary's comment made me realize that I forgot to credit the lovely Gail of Aging With Grace & Strong Will for this blog post idea that she wrote over a year ago. See? I'm not all that creative myself... I copy blog post ideas, too. And sometimes I even forget to credit them. *blush* ]


Sarah said...

I have one Deserts Chang CD and love love love it. The Bao Bei song is Hannah's very favorite song. She sways and smiles whenever she hears it, and sings along in the "la la la la la" part. Love it.

I've worked hard to try to memorize it, and can sing about 1/3 of it, not including all of the "la la la la," of course.

What are your favorites from Deserts Chang?

bbmomof2boys said...

In her room I have her name and a set of 4 pictures of panda's that have the 4 seasons on them. In the living room I have her chop, a soup bowl, a 4 screen divider with marble inserts depicting different scenes in China and a small glass with a picture painted on the inside. No books - I'm so sad!


Anonymous said...

I gulp to admit it, but ... I like that *ahem* Tar-zhey piece. And I'm drooling over those teapots. I DO collect tea sets (and use them, because tea is my coffee), and I've recently been wanting to branch out from my traditional English sets into Chinese and Japanese.

My most treasured "foreign" pieces are the several matroishkas (Russian nesting dolls) I've collected over the years. I've always, always, always been fascinated by Russia (before I met my husband I toyed with the idea of going to Russia for a few years to work in an orphanage over there - God had other plans, apparently), and over time I've picked up, or been given, several matroishkas which now are displayed proudly all throughout my house. My two favorites are the first one I got, and one that a good friend brought back from a trip to Russia, just for me.

Shanna said...

Wow! you do have a nice assortment of treasures. I especially love the Korean art work.
We moved into a new home last May, and sadly I've not put any of our treasures from China or other countries on the shelves or walls.
You've inspired me... Now, where are all those boxes of treasures?

LucisMomma said...

Still do not have the Chinese treasures on the wall that we got in our DD's province and in Guangzhou. We've been in this house 3 years!

We also have some neat pieces from places DH's been since 9/11...Afghanistan, Kuwait, DjiBouti.

Beach Mama said...

I guess y'all could say we have that "ecclectic Asian-Bautical-Beachy" thang going on at our house. I have a few dolls/gong/pottery pieces that my father brought home from Vietnam back in the 60's that are proudly displayed. Too many teasets from China to display... a double-sided silk embroidery, Fu dogs, lighthouses, sailboats, you get the idea. For the most part though, our home decor consists of toys, more toys, children's artwork, Sunday school crafts, and story books. Martha Stewart doesn't live here!

Wanda said...

Oodles and oodles. Great idea. I think I'll do a post like this sometime.

Your collectibles and treasures are beautiful. I really enjoyed my visit. Thanks.

Lisa said...

You have some lovely things ~ most of all though I like the sentiment you shared as to the why & what they mean to you & your family.

We have many items from both Kazakhstan and Taiwan. A dream wishes quilt, handmade tea set and pottery for our L; silk zodiacial animals, an original lantern (fromt the lantern festival we witnessed on our T day, given to him by his Foster Mama), & jade pieces for T.

But best of all......we have indiginious musical instruments from each bith country. We are all learning them and L has already mastered the Kaz. dombra. We have two woodwinds from Taiwan.....they are deceptively easy looking and actually are quite challenging! Music is very important to our family.

Great post topic...I may have to "borrow" it one day.

P.S. I have some Irish & Dutch items too....family pieces, near & dear to my heart.

rosemary said...

I worked in Thailand for so long before we made the decision to adopt that I actually have a lot of great stuff. Is that cheating? Anyway, my favorite pieces are this gorgeous wall hanging I got at the night market in Chiang Rai, a carved mother and child statue all out of one piece of wood, a chalk portrait of a young woman that I bought in an Akha village, and a very unusual blue and gold painted Buddha face that I found in PatPong.

On this next trip, I am in search of an 8 piece bowl and chopstick set. I have seen lovely ones for sale but never purchased one yet.

BTW - I'm totally going to do a rip off of this post over at my blog. In fact, I may just start copying most of your posts. It will make writing my blog so much easier!! ;-)

Laura L. said...

I love this post. I always enjoy it when you share things about your home and what is special to you. Especially love that you shared about all things Asian.
I really LOVE that calligraphy scroll. Ai is part of Jadyn's name and so I've always LOVED that character.
That plate that was your grandfather's is really neat. What a treasure.
An inspiring post. It actually made me realize that there are a couple more things I could be displaying in our home.
I'd like to have more things we could display on the walls.

Janet said...

Oh boy. We have tons of stuff from Uganda. Wooden animals, wall hangings, drums. Wooden tongs. Plates. Yeah. I MIGHT have gone a little crazy. Couldn't be helped.

Patty O. said...

These pieces are beautiful! I have a few things from when I lived in Hong Kong, including some candlesticks, lots of chopsticks, some really pretty rice bowls and spoons and a couple teapots that survived the falling shelf last year. My kids play with my medicine balls and broke their case, but they enjoy them so much, I can't say no. Plus, they were super cheap. I plan on replacing them someday.

I would love to buy some art like you have, some decorative items--maybe someday I'll get back there. Until then, I'll have to visit chinatown.

Debbie said...

I have lots of treasured items but they are all from here! They have been passed down though and that makes them very special.

M3 said...

Your pieces are definitely treasures. Makes me wonder what we have sprinkled throughout the home? I think I'll just take a mosey around to see...

Anonymous said...

We have lots of stuff from Mauritania and Morocco! That's a no brainer. We have chairs from Senegal and also a gourd-xylophone, both bought on vacation. We have things from France. We have things from Oregon. In fact, we have things from all over--since our friends travel too.
LOVE your stuff!

prechrswife said...

My favorite pieces from China are the finger/hand ink paintings done by a street artist in Guangzhou. I'm still amazed by the whole process. Our Tonggu girl has a very similar piece to the one in the photo with the plate, along with the wooden comb that was a gift from Dir. Guo. I also love the look of the MahJong set we got in China, and maybe one day we will actually figure out the rules. :-) We also have a tea set from Jiangxi that belongs to our daughter, but is currently displayed in the China cabinet. It isn't the one we bought, as that one was destroyed by TSA doing a baggage search, but some dear friends got a replacement for us when they brought their Jiangxi girl home a couple of years later.

Myrnie said...

We don't have many foreign pieces- my husband spent 2 years in Brazil, and I cook some foods that he loved there. I have some gifts from various exchange students (Japanese, Chinese, Russian) when I was growing up. Mostly our cherished pieces are from the US- my mom's family came from the deep south, and I'm fascinated by the history there. I have handmade quilts from my great-grandma, every stitch sewn with a thread and needle. I have an old wall-mounted coffee mill, vintage aprons, old pieces of crockery...I love them all, and use them.

Mahmee said...

Very nice...those are great treasures!
I already owned pieces from all over Asia but, that has probably tripled since adopting our daughter...many more items from China now (on top of what is in her bedroom). Although...I am pretty partial to my antique grandmother clock from Germany as well as some German sheet music from 1929 that I have framed. Our home is probably just the great American melting pot overall though....something one can clearly see when entering the office and getting hit smack in the face with my Betty Boop collection. Oh yes, I said it. B-O-O-P.

Aunt LoLo said...

You forgot your Chinese storybooks!! Those are seriously some of my most treasured "Chinese" items - anything in the language! (Our copy of Totoro is the curent favorite.) My other favorites are the artwork that we picked up during our trip to Shanghai/Xi'an -little lady statues, crystal globes...fun stuff. :-)

Half Gaelic, Half Garlic! said...

Oh, I loved seeing all of your treasures.....we have a few things from Italy around here, but I am looking forward to our trip to China..... I hope to bring home some treasures of our own!



Colleen said...

Look at all those beautiful pieces of art work!!!! Wow!!! I have several things that we brought back from China. I am always picking up little things at this wonderful Chinese store in our mall...they have such lovely stuff!!!! I wish I would of bought even more when we were in China but I had to buy an extra suitcase to care home my loot and I didn't think dh would like me buying 2 extra suitcases LOL

CC said...

it is all so lovely!!!! My parents have so many Asian pieces they could give us if our home were just bigger. My sister (???) is ending up with some of it!

Dita said...

Ohhhhhhhhhhh, I slowly scanned over every picture coveting your beautiful finds and "un"collectables.

I imagine there are so many interesting stories that go along with each piece.