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How to Achieve the Mystical Look of the Far East with a Little Help from Age Old Metals

Updated on November 1, 2016

If you want to give your home a little of the mysticism of the Far East, you need to include some metal elements. It may help to understand when and how some of those far eastern civilisations began to use them.

Examples from China

For example, a Chinese Ding is an important genre of bronze work created by ancient Chinese, which played a major role in the culture of its dynasties. A ding is a large cauldron-like decorated vessel with handles standing on legs. It was used mainly to burn offerings as part of spiritual rituals. The number of dings buried with their owners after death was a symbol of their status in their community. Dings dating back to the 4th century BC have been found in excavated graves. Examples can be seen in museums such as the national Museum of China in Beijing.

Their shapes were used as cooking vessels in earlier civilisations, initially made in clay. Working with bronze emerged towards the end of the Shang dynasty, around the 11th century BC. Their shape is echoed in today’s metal woks which normally have no legs and are used for cooking in many countries across the world.

The Chinese also pioneered the technique of cast iron in which the raw metal is molten at 13–1500 degrees centigrade in a blast furnace and poured into moulds of required shapes to cool. Its mass production is believed to have started during the Han dynasty from 206 BC to 220AD.

Coins made in cast iron have been found that may predate that. They may have been made when copper became scarce during the Western Han, Song, and Qing eras. Other iron items discovered and recognised as being from ancient times include statues, bells, scissors, cannons and other weapons of war.

India and Japan

Archaological finds in India, which have been carbon dated, also show iron implements in use and suggest that the technology of iron smelting could have been developed as early as the 16th century BC. Northern India had the deepest gold mines of the Ancient World, silver mines were there in the northwest as well, and ancient noble families would surround themselves with objects made of the precious metals. Fibres of them are even believed to have been beaten into fibres woven into textiles. Copper and bronze were often used in tandem to produce effigies of Buddha throughout the country as well.

Japan was the more insular country and came later to the technologies of metalworking, although it has been highly skilled in sword-smithing since before the 1st century BC. Otherwise the early Japanese periods are more famous for crafts such as lacquerware rather than metal working.

The Far Eastern Mystical Look in the Modern Western Home

To produce an Asian quality in your home, you should include some antique style metal artefacts, preferably in iron or brass. These will not do it alone though. You must also choose colours, furniture and fabrics that suit the particular theme you choose for each room.

A Japanese minimalist style will need the colours of nature, spring blossom against sky blue, or perhaps autumnal hues and natural greens. You will be aiming to create an oasis of calm with a peaceful quality, so this style is ideal for bedrooms.

The styles of India will be more opulent. Why not use this for your living room or entertaining space? Richly coloured throws in fabrics shot with gold or silver pair beautifully with a collection of hanging lanterns in iron or brass, especially if you have brass or iron door furniture and window fittings to complement them. Decorative metal ornaments with an oriental theme might complete the picture.

Red is the colour for a bright Chinese theme, but this can be very overwhelming, so it’s best to keep to just a few red touches in your oriental style room. Again lighting is very important and lantern collections always help, as do a collection of candles.

Of course you are not limited to these styles. Mixing and matching is allowed as well. A mystical far eastern look can be adjusted to suit your tastes and your purse, but it’s good to have a little knowledge before you start.


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