A Guide to Collecting Asian Art

A Guide to Collecting Asian Art

There's no doubt that collecting Asian art - which encompasses a wide range of artistic traditions from China, Japan, India, Korea, Vietnam and others - can be a fascinating and rewarding hobby. Specialist, Yexue Li provides a brief guide to help you get started with building your own collection of Asian art antiques. 

7 August 2023



Educate Yourself


Before rushing headlong into collecting, it's worthwhile educating yourself about the various forms of Asian art, their historical significance, and the different periods and styles. Take some time to read books on the subject, explore reputable online resources to gain knowledge, and visit museums to see first-hand from the best collections. By studying and handling masterpieces in person, you'll gain a better understanding of the style, craftsmanship and quality of the art.


Choose a Focus


As you can imagine, Asian art is incredibly diverse. Choose a specific area which really appeals to you and make that the focus for your collection, such as Chinese porcelain, Japanese woodblock prints, Indian Buddhist sculptures, or Vietnamese paintings. Focusing on one particular subject will help you develop expertise and make informed decisions.


Know the Market

As you develop your skills, it is worthwhile keeping an eye on the latest trend of sale results across different categories.  You will see that some may show a steady increase in their market value, whilst others can remain stagnant for decades.  Although you should purchase pieces that you wish to live with, it is still worthwhile identifying a category that holds the potential to reap rewarding returns. 


Specialist Yexue Li, Head of our Asian Art Department

Specialist Yexue Li, Head of our Asian Art Department


Set a Budget

Collecting Asian art antiques, although enjoyable, can be expensive, so be sure to set a budget that you can comfortably afford - and stick to it! Remember that apart from the purchase price, you may also have to pay additional expenses for restoration, insurance and storage.


Research the Provenance

Provenance is crucial when collecting art and antiques so, as best you can, research the provenance and history of the pieces you're interested in. Buying from reputable dealers or auction houses can take some of the doubt away, as they will likely be able to provide detailed information about the artwork's origin and previous ownership.


Authentication and Appraisal


And if you're really unsure about the authenticity of a piece, consider consulting with a reputable art appraiser or an expert in Asian art. Their expertise can help you make informed decisions and enable you to avoid buying fake or overpriced items. Remember, you can always contact Sworders at asianart@sworder.co.uk for our professional opinion.


A Chinese blue and white vase (£19,500)

A Chinese blue and white vase (£19,500)


Diversify Your Collection


While starting small and having a specific focus is good, after a while you may wish to consider diversifying your collection with artworks from different Asian regions and time periods, and this will certainly add richness and depth to your collection.


Enjoy the Journey


Collecting Asian art can take you on a fascinating journey, where you're not just discovering the history of the pieces themselves, but also gaining an appreciation of their cultural heritage.  It's an enjoyable process, where the more you learn, the more your collection flourishes, and the more your passion grows.

Finally - and perhaps the most important point of all - remember to always purchase the pieces that most resonate with you and bring you joy.  Happy collecting!


Thinking of selling? Contact our specialists for a free auction valuation and sales advice.







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