Information about Antique Chinese Parrots

Unique and Valuable Information About Antique Chinese Parrots

Parrots have been associated with Chinese culture, since time immemorial. Ancient Chinese people depicted the bird in various works of art, from sculptures to bowls.
Historyplex Staff
Last Updated: Apr 9, 2018
Parrots were put on a high pedestal in ancient China. They were part and parcel of the Chinese culture, and were considered symbols of good omen. As parrots were symbolic of good things, ancient Chinese people used to depict these birds on statues, porcelain dishes, pendants, hairpins, etc. These objects of art are very much popular as antiques, and people love to collect individual pieces, or those belonging to a particular period. Antique Chinese parrots are very much in demand, and are available in various shapes and styles, with delicate designs and vibrant colors. Let us know more about these marvelous collectibles.
Parrots in Ancient Chinese Culture
In ancient China, parrots were companions of the women folk, and were often kept in the living quarters of women. It was believed that parrots were capable of keeping the secrets of females. Parrots were also considered symbols of freedom and long life. During the Hongshan culture of the Neolithic period, the flight of parrots was viewed as an indicator of the coming rains. In fact, the Chinese people of that time awaited for this sight, to start planting crops. Parrots were also known as 'divine birds' during the reign of emperor Xuanzong, of the Tang Dynasty. This emperor had a parrot, which was capable of mimicking and doing many tricks. This ability was appreciated by everyone, and the parrot was loved and honored. Since that time, parrots came to be known as 'divine birds'.
Parrots are also associated with feng shui. According to feng shui principles, parrots symbolize positive energy. These birds are considered as bearers of good news, and it is also said that the feathers of parrots possess different colors, that represent the five elements of feng shui - water, wood, fire, earth/soil, and metal. The Chinese people believe that a pair of parrots is a sign of love and fidelity.
Parrots in Chinese Antiques
As parrots were considered symbols of good things, the ancient Chinese people depicted these birds in their works of art. You can find numerous Chinese antiques, which portray this bird in various shapes, sizes, and colors. Some of them are explained below:
  • The most prominent among the antique Chinese parrots are the ceramic roof tile parrots, which were placed on the edges of rooftops of homes and buildings, either public or private. It was believed that these roof tile parrots, usually made of ceramic or terracotta with a highly glazed finish, could protect the inmates from bad luck, and create a positive energy in the building. The number of such parrots on the rooftop of any structure was directly proportional to the importance of that building (like those of emperors or the government). The more important the building, the greater the number of rooftop parrots. However, the maximum number of rooftop parrots was limited to nine.
  • Most of the ancient Chinese porcelain, which date back to the sixteenth century, have delicate designs of parrots, either in flight or perched on tree branches. Statues of parrots made of porcelain, were also in vogue, and were available in pairs.
  • Parrots were carved out of ivory too. A classical example is the large parrot charm, made in the 1930s. Ivory carvings consist of parrots by themselves, or the bird with maidens. Another material used to carve out parrots was Chinese jade, which was otherwise known as the 'stone of heaven'. During ancient times, this stone was very rare, and was worn only by the emperors.

Antique Chinese parrots are indeed unique and valuable, but if you are interested in owning one, ensure its authenticity. Make sure that it is not damaged. Never buy anything that is chipped, cracked or with faded paint.