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Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Looking For A Zitan Wood Expert

Hey everybody, just a quick post here, because quite frankly really stressing over the scans I have waited so long for and coming up with the next mortgage and car payment, ggrrrr I hate money, I dislike being sick, I dislike the economic downturn whew!!! Okay, I feel better saying it.
Anyway so I am trying to raise money, who isn't I know?  I have always had an eye out for "special" stuff and I do have a number of very nice items from travels and auctions over the years.

Most are one of a kind antique items that I would need Antique Roadshow ticket to ever figure out value. I have tried repeatedly to get picked in the random roadshow tickets drawing, but, sigh, have not been chosen yet. I still dream about it though, I know exactly what two pieces I would bring:)

All along I have known God will provide, he always meets our needs. It is entirely possible that one of these old paintings, sculptures or works of art could be valuable enough to pay off my mortgage. Wouldn't that be wonderful? Oh just thinking about it eases my headache momentarily.

What I am going to try to do here on my blog occasionally is post a piece and try to find an expert honest antique and/or fine arts appraiser to help assess fair value, like the road show guys do. LOL only I am hoping to find someone willing to do so out of the pure goodness of his/her heart or even an honest interest to purchase at a fair price would be great. I read somewhere that Jackie Chan has like one of the largest privately owned, not in a museum, Zitan wood carving and furniture collections.
Todays item which I would definitely consider as an antique based on some of the aging apparent on the wood is a carving  of  elephants crossing a bridge. The Bridge of hope you say?  There are many cheap 5 elephant imitations out there as I have found, but trust me nothing like this one.
The wood is very smooth, dark, almost purplish to black in some areas. I believe the wood to be Zitan which from the little I have learned is quite rare. The piece is VERY heavy, weighing 11 lbs, and while I have not put it in water I am quite sure it will sink like a rock.
The eyes, toenails and tusks are all inlaid with what I believe and hope to be bone or ivory. A heated needle point did not sink into a test spot.
While the Bridge of Hope in my research seems to be more related to Africa, this piece is clearly from Sri Lanka. How do I know that? Because in crude lettering in more inlay it says Sri Lanka.

Also this zitan wood hand carved statue has nine elephants crossing the bridge, and for some reason all the others I have been able to find only have only five.
Here are a few pictures:

it is approximately 26 inches long and 11 inches high
it weighs approx. 11 lbs.

If there are any antique, or Zitan wood expert out there who would be able to offer any assistance at all in determining value or appraisal of this piece your help would be sooooooooooooo  greatly appreciated.

1 comment:

  1. Zitan is complicated. Apparently, the name refers to wood from at least two species and two genera, which are not related. Dalbergia sp. is a rosewood, whereas Ptercarpus sp. is true zitan, and may come in several types (xiao yie tan and da yie tan). The latter (Pterocarpus), at least, is denser than water.

    As far as I know these are both Asian. African zitan may refer to ebony, which is rare but not as rare as true zitan. Be careful testing the density in water w/o having the piece in a loose-fitting plastic bag, as exposure to water may affect the surface patina.

    The main thing with true zitan is that it has always been rare, in consequence of being geographically restricted, slow growing, beautiful, and of highest quality for carving and finishing. As such, true zitan, in my experience, is not used in tourist pieces, and is only used in pieces on which considerable care has been expended by capable craftsmen. In my experience, this does not include the elephant bridge pieces. Consequently, my guess is that yours is ebony. This is consistent with the lighter banding in your elephant bridge. Ture zitan has almost cream or pale grey sapwood over lustrous black or purple heartwood (hense the alternative name "purple sandalwood"). Some small patches of red or lighter colored wood may occur, but the black and light banded wood is, I am afraid, more characteristic of ebony.

    Additionally, real zitan (Pterocarpus) displays a peculiar grain pattern of open pores, sometimes referred to as "crab-claw marks", which are distinct from pores in ebony. They are hard to figure and published definitions are few. I am more familiar with Chinese pieces, and quite truthfully, have seen no Sri Lankan pieces.

    Best of luck, Michael Queen


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