Antique Chinese Soapstone Carvings
Brief history and description
Chinese artisans have been crafting soapstone carvings, tools and figurines for more than 3,000 years, although the practice of carving soapstone later spread to ancient Greece, Scandinavia, Africa, Iran, India, Australia and northern Canada as well.
Soapstone is an incredibly soft stone that also gives off an oily texture (hence the name), and can come in a variety of different colours such as pink, white, green, brown, gray, black and yellow.
The height of soapstone production in China occurred during the Ming Dynasty (circa 1368 to 1644), and during this time artisans used soapstone to carve not only figurines, but dishes, vases and cooking utensils as well.
Guide for collectors
Soapstone carvings which were crafted during the Ming Dynasty (1368 to 1644) are considered to be valuable, but not necessarily rare. Soapstone carvings which feature fine-detailed carvings are considered to be more valuable.
Restoration of an antique Chinese soapstone carving is not recommended.
For more information regarding antique Chinese soapstone carvings, visit Soapstone Culture's official website.
Millea Bros Ltd in Madison, New Jersey sold a pair of antique, Chinese-carved, tinted soapstone carvings on hardwood stands (circa Qing Dynasty, 7.5" x 3") for $12,000 in November of 2010.
Showplace Antique + Design Center in New York sold a pair of Chinese soapstone carved seals (4" x 1.5") for $4,000 in January of 2011.
Showplace Antique + Design Center in New York sold a Chinese-carved Buddha soapstone figure with a custom wooden stand (2 5/8" x 2 5/8" x 1 5/8") for $750 in August of 2010.
Clouds Overseas Auction in Jiangsu, China sold a large Chinese yellow soapstone carving of an Eith landscape (8 cm x 5 cm) for $250 in December of 2011, and the same yellow soapstone carving for $450 in March of 2012.
Showplace Antique + Design Center in New York sold a Chinese soapstone carving (circa 19th century; 7" in length) featuring various animal and human figures for $50 in November of 2007, and the same Chinese soapstone carving for $60 in December of 2007.