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The Influence of the Triads on the Decorative Arts in China

by Adrien von Ferscht (06/28/14).

The very concept of Triads having any influence on the decorative arts would appear incongruous to most people; it is nevertheless a reality that had considerable momentum in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

The very concept of Triads having any influence on the decorative arts would appear incongruous to most people; it is nevertheless a reality that had considerable momentum in the late 19th century and early 20th century.

Incongruous as it may seem, the tumultuous changes in the social order in China and Hong Kong in the early 20th century would probably not have occurred without the behind-the-scenes activities of the Triads. In China, they were highly visible, some becoming style icons in their own right; in Hong Kong they were an ever-present enigma. The reasons for their activities may have been questionable, but they served as a facilitating force for so much change, albeit probably unwittingly.

The Triads served as the boiler-room that created the energy of the first 35 years of the 20th century; an energy that often manifested itself in all forms of the decorative arts, with entirely new genres and styles making their debut—all with a uniquely Chinese twist on a Western theme.

WorthPoint’s Adrien von Ferscht explores the decorative arts of the time that reflected a new brashness and identity. Adrien says, without exaggeration, that the Triads wielded a considerable influence on what are now relics of those heady times and somewhat notorious cities. Read the whole article on the Chines Export Silver website.


Adrien von Ferscht is an Honorary Research Fellow at University of Glasgow’s Scottish Centre for China Research, a Fellow for Arts & Culture at the Asia Scotland Institute and works with museums and universities around the world. He is a consultant for Dreweatts & Bloomsbury Auctions and his ever-expanding website, Chinese Export Silver, is the largest online information resource on the subject. His new 250-page Third Edition of the “Collector’s Guide to Chinese Export Silver 1785-1940,” is the largest information reference resource for this unique silver category. The single purchase price acquires the Catalogue plus all subsequent editions free of charge. Adrien also encourages people to share images and ask questions at avf@chinese-export-silver.com“> avf@chinese-export-silver.com.

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