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25 Jun 2015

Our pick of the Chinese antiques arriving next week

Posted by James Cottrell. No Comments

We have another container from Beijing due to arrive with us next week, chock full of Chinese antiques and accessories for the home that I selected during my last visit back in April.

Most of these pieces have been up on our website for a while so you can already view and order your favourites, but we will be busy over the coming weeks photographing an extra dozen or so antiques off this container that weren’t photographed in China so look out for these soon. They include several beautiful elm and walnut consoles as well as some quite rare red lacquer Shanxi cabinets, all from a new supplier I came across in Beijing quite recently.

Along with furniture we will be taking delivery of the new wall art (some lovely new Chinese ancestor paintings and Tibetan art), stoneware, bronzes and carved wooden figures that I also chose during my trip in April.

With the new container nearly here I thought this would be a good time to pick out just one or two of my own picks – the more unusual or special items of furniture that will be arriving next week.

First of these is an old two door cabinet from Shanxi province, with a wonderfully carved heavy base and old brass hardware. For reasons I’m never entirely sure of, this type of piece is referred to these days as a ‘book cabinet’, even though it’s purpose originally would have been for more general storage in a bedroom or reception area. The cabinet would once have been one of a pair, with each one being made to sit on top of a matching, much larger cabinet to form a tall storage unit.

The upper part of the cabinet is quite simple in style, with recessed door panels, beading around the frames and traditional wooden dowel hinges. The base though, is decorated with wonderful deep relief carvings. The central recessed panel is made up of an intricate geometric pattern that includes seven swastikas – an auspicious symbol in both Buddhism and Chinese Taoism for good fortune and prosperity.

We have sold a few similar cabinets in the past and have a similar one in black lacquer also available right now, but the original red colour, brass handles and detailed carvings make this cabinet one of my favourites.

Also arriving next week is another cabinet that really stood out for me when I was over in Beijing. This one is a large sideboard from Gansu province in the west of China and what’s special in this case are the wonderful, original thick red lacquer and old paintings. The cabinet has been restored with a new shellac finish and adapted for use as a modern sideboard, but still retains all of its old character.

Originally the doors at either side of the central drawers would have been fixed panels, with the areas inside accesed by removing a half board lid in the top. Unusually, the restorer has kept the half boards intact rather than sealing them – something I think is a nice nod to the furniture’s original purpose and which adds extra charm.

The paintings on each door show detailed landscapes of mountains and trees, with figures picked out in the centre. I love the way that the once bright colours have been toned down with age, so that the soft cream background and darker colours of the mountains contrast beautifully with the deep red that surrounds them.

You’ll also notice futher paintings in monochrome on the central part of the cabinet, below the central drawer. Between this drawer and the two smaller ones above are the traces left in the lacquer by the old, heavy circular lock plate that would have been used to secure this part of the cabinet. You’ll also see the ring hardware above each door that once allowed the half board lids to be locked in place.

As a statement piece in a modern home you’re unlikely to find anything finer than this and the sideboard’s size and proportions make it ideal either as a dining room buffet or as an impressive stand for a large TV.

With this particular container due in we are already looking to ship the next – we’re just finalising the last few antiques to ship along with a few new reproduction pieces from a couple of our regular suppliers in Beijing. I’m hoping we’ll have photos of most of this new selection soon so look out for these in the ‘new arrivals‘ part of our website over the coming weeks!

 

12 Jun 2015

Raku and antiques in the home of ceramicist David Roberts

Posted by James Cottrell. No Comments

David and his home

Recently we were lucky enough to visit the Yorkshire home of renowned ceramicist David Roberts, after he bought several pieces from our collection of Chinese antiques.

David is considered one of the most significant ceramic artists working in Europe today, with an international reputation as a leading practitioner in Raku ceramics. Raku is a pottery technique for small vessels which originated in the tea ceremonies of late sixteenth-century Japan. David is acknowledged as responsible for the introduction and promotion of modern, large scale Raku in Europe. A book by Lynn Green, ‘Painting with Smoke’, is devoted to his technique and his work is represented in public and private collections throughout the world.

As you can imagine, we were thrilled when David got in touch to discuss the purchase of antique furniture which could be used to display his work.

David lives in a beautiful stone barn in Holmfirth which he converted himself and which acts as both a home, studio and gallery space. As it’s in a conservation area, he was very limited as to what he could do with the exterior, which retains a traditional feel in old Yorkshire stone. However, once you step inside, it’s like entering a different world. The interior space is light and contemporary and employs clever use of Japanese-style sliding screens to compartmentalise areas and create rooms within rooms. The interior style of the house chimes beautifully with the Japanese heritage of David’s Raku pottery.

The Chinese antiques David chose act as a perfect foil to the delicacy of his ceramic art. Below you can see the beautiful Mongolian altar table with its intricate carving around the apron, designed to resemble bamboo. The table would originally have been used for offerings to ancestors, with the distinctive raised ‘flanges’ at each end of the table top denoting its religious use, but now makes a perfect display platform for David’s work.

Mongolian console

Antique Mongolian Altar Table

The beautiful carved cabinet purchased by David has a long history. Made from elm and at least 200 years old, it is a lovely example of the furniture produced in Shaanxi province in north central China, where the ancient Chinese capital of Xian is located. The ornate carvings on the two drawers, apron and on the spandrels that taper down to the feet, are very distinctive of furniture from that region.

Shaanxi cabinet

Carved Shaanxi Cabinet

The final two pieces chosen for David’s home were the beautiful and surprisingly modern-looking red lacquer console on the left; and the stunning painted temple cabinet on the right.

Red lacquer console

Red Lacquer Console

Temple cabinet

Temple Cabinet

The console originates from Shanxi province, and has been refinished in a rich, distressed red lacquer. Almost art deco in style, it works beautifully in the bright, contemporary space and draws the eye down to the final antique that David bought from us – the brightly decorated cabinet that fits snugly into an alcove at the end of the hallway. This piece is fron Gansu and still has its old paintings showing flowers around a central good luck symbol, as well as three bats – also symbolising good fortune.

David’s home is a perfect demonstration of how Oriental antiques can complement a contemporary home. I’m sure you’ll agree that the pared down Japanese aesthetic of the interior beautifully showcases both his ceramic art and the antique furniture on which it is displayed.

 

1 Jun 2015

Flowers in Chinese culture

Posted by James Cottrell. No Comments

Flowers are a recurring theme in Chinese culture. Found in art and poetry, painted onto silk, carved into furniture, stitched into textiles, each bloom has its own meaning and symbolism. In the photograph below, a wall is papered with hand-painted silk wallpaper. The detail in the paintings, depicting flowers, birds and butterflies, is absolutely exquisite.

The symbolism of a flower is often based on its pronunciation’s similarity to another word. For example, lilies are popular at weddings as the word for ‘lily’ sounds like part of a famous proverb describing a ‘happy union for one hundred years’.

Orchids are another popular flower at Chinese weddings, as they symbolise love, wealth and fortune. They are also emblematic of fertility. Orchids have been loved by Chinese scholars since ancient times, and represent integrity, nobility and friendship, all considered the virtues of a perfectly cultured gentleman. The philosopher Confucius compared the orchid to a virtuous man.

Flowers represent each of the seasons, with iris and magnolia for spring, peony and lotus for summer, chrysanthemum for autumn and plum for winter. Plum blossom represents the value of endurance – as a famous traditional poem says: “the fragrance of plum blossom comes from bitterness and coldness.”

The peony is considered by many to be the country’s national flower and even has a festival dedicated to it. The peony symbolises riches, prosperity and honour. In art, it is also used as a metaphor for female beauty and reproduction. Pictured in full bloom, it symbolises peace. Vases and other ornaments are often decorated with peonies: the peony acts as an amulet, believed to bring good luck and happy feelings. Our peony vase in red resin and lacquer is pictured right. 

 

The daffodil or narcissus is native to China and is known as ‘the water goddess.’ The flower is said to have the ability to rout out evil spirits.

In Feng Shui, flowers are used to bring good fortune and success in the home. Healthy flowering plants manifest good Chi (or energy). It’s said that as the flower blooms, so does the intellect and spirit.

Chrysanthemums would be an excellent gift when visiting a home (but not white ones, as they represent death) and are used by Buddhists as offerings on the altars. They are thought to bring powerful Yang energy and attract good luck to a house.

If you love the symbolism of flowers, you’ll find audacious florals blossoming across our website. From antique cabinets painted with delicately faded florals to striking silk wallpaper adorned with cherry blossom, there are blooms to suit all tastes. You can also see more of the florals which inspire us on our Blooms Pinterest board.

15 May 2015

Real-life boho style

Posted by James Cottrell. No Comments

We are big fans of boho chic at Shimu and we think our furniture, particularly some of the more unusual antiques, perfectly suit this relaxed, colourful aesthetic. Our customers obviously feel the same, and today on the blog we showcase the boho style of some real-life Shimu customers.

Boho is colourful, eclectic and highly personal. It’s a look associated with the 70s – with tie-dye and macramé – but the original Bohemians sprung up in France centuries before peace signs and flower power. Boho has inspired fashion and interiors since the late sixties and has never gone out of style.

Boho is an invitation to kick off your shoes and relax, to luxuriate in pattern, texture and colour. Textiles play an important role in the boho look and ethnic details feature strongly. Furniture is relaxed and careworn – distressed pieces with faded layers of colourful paint really suit the boho vibe. Accessories are quirky and fun, often antique.

We have two great examples of boho living – one a hotel by the highly regarded interior designer David Carter, and another a family home in Baildon, West Yorkshire, owned by Pippa Hamilton. Both David and Pippa are longstanding customers of Shimu and both – although totally different in their approach – show a real flair for relaxed boho style.

David is a highly influential interior designer who creates stunning interiors for clients around the world. His bijou hotel in East London, 40 Winks, was called ‘the most beautiful small hotel in the world’ by German Vogue. We created the the bespoke wooden window panels pictured above and below, and provided Oriental antiques for this flamboyant hotel.

David is a passionate exponent of a ‘grand’ design. Never bland or predictable, his work is driven by strong ideas and a conviction that a successful interior should reach out and touch our emotions.

Pippa Hamilton’s Baildon home is a more informal affair, with Chinese and Asian antiques bought from Shimu over a number of years. When we moved to our old showroom in nearby Saltaire over seven years ago, Pippa was one of the first customers through the door, and fell in love with a beautiful carved cabinet from Shaanxi province. This now takes pride of place in her main bedroom. Since then she has added to her collection with painted grain chests from Gansu and Mongolia, including the pieces shown below. She uses textiles – rugs, throws and wall hangings – to great effect and has created a gorgeously cosy family home.

Both David’s glamorous hotel and Pippa’s cosy rural home are perfect examples of how boho can work in a real-life setting. In our next blog post, we’ll feature pieces from the Shimu collection to help you achieve boho style in your own home.

29 Apr 2015

Feeling Blue

Posted by James Cottrell. No Comments

As you know, we’re currently in love with the colour blue. Our new Beijing Blue collection is the focus of our devotion – handcrafted from chunky reclaimed pine with distressed powder blue doors, each piece is totally unique. In this blog post, we thought we’d find out more about the colour blue and in particular, about its meanings in Chinese tradition and culture.

So, what about blue? It’s the colour of Earth’s largest creature, mosquitos love it, and Joni Mitchell wrote a song about it. It’s the colour of the sky, the sea and if you paint a room it, you’ll be more productive. We talk about ‘feeling blue’ or things happening ‘once in a blue moon’, and a ‘bolt from the blue’.

Although there is now a separate word for ‘blue’ (蓝) in Chinese, it was traditionally grouped with green under the name ‘qing’, whose character (青) derives from the idea of sprouting plant life. The traditional Five Elements Theory classes black, red, ‘qing’, white and yellow as the standard colours, corresponding to the five elements of water, fire, wood, metal and earth. Before the Five Elements Theory, there were only two colours: the opposing yet complementary shades of black and white – yin and yang.

Blue is a colour of mixed meaning in China. Traditionally, some family members wear blue to funerals in China, in the same way that the western world wears black. Generally though, blue is seen to represent nature and renewal, and demonstrates vitality. It’s the colour of spring, and represents vigour and growth. Even during funerals, blue is not seen as a colour of mourning because many Chinese believe that the body is just moving onto a different state.

‘Qing’ is closely linked to historical buildings and clothing, like qing bricks, and qing pattern porcelain. Antique blue and white Oriental porcelain has been highly prized in the West since the 17th century and commands great prices at auction.

In Feng Shui, decorating in blue will bring longevity and harmony. Blue establishes calm, and as it’s the colour of sky and sea, it gives a sense of vastness. Decorators who are feeling depressed should avoid this colour, as should those who feel the need to be more sociable. If you want to generate increased income, incorporating blue can stimulate wealth. Blue colours are said to bring water energy into your home, and money into your life. Simply painting your front door a rich blue (but only if your home faces southeast, north, east, or southwest) will help to start the flow of wealth into your home.

Blue stands for healing, relaxation, exploration, trust, calmness and immortality. Perhaps we all need a little more blue in our lives?

20 Apr 2015

More gorgeous Chinese antiques sourced and ready to ship from Beijing

Posted by James Cottrell. No Comments

I’m back at the Shimu showroom in Yorkshire today after a great trip to China, with the last week or so spent in Beijing visiting our various Chinese antique suppliers, perusing the markets for unusual accessories and discussing future projects with one or two of our suppliers.

The main purpose (and most enjoyable part) of my Beijing visit was to select the Chinese antique furniture that we will include on a container due to leave in the next 3-4 weeks. As some of you who read our blog regularly may know, the number of good quality antique pieces available in China has dwindled over recent years, largely as so much of it was shipped out to America and Europe. Whilst it is therefore more difficult to find genuinely stand out pieces, it can still be done. It is just a question of knowing which suppliers still have access to the best pieces for restoration and then being able to pick these out from the slightly more run of the mill refinished antiques.

Over the past 12 years of running Shimu I think I have visited almost every one of the main antique dealers in Beijing (several of whom are no longer around) and have a good knowledge of what each one is likely to have available, as well as the quality of their restoration and finish. I therefore now tend to buy from just three or four companies, each one of which offers something slightly different in terms of the type of piece and the style of restoration and finish.

Buying in this way means that I can usually achieve a nice mix of antique furniture that will appeal to different tastes and budgets. My own favourite pieces tend to be from a supplier who is still able to source well preserved, beautiful elm furniture from Shanxi province and whose speciality is to restore these sympathetically, keeping the original colour and with little refinishing. Another supplier will often refinish pieces with a new lacquer and varnish, often using colours that are more ‘trendy’ than the original to suit a more contemporary setting. Their skill is being able to breathe new life into a piece of furniture whose potential could otherwise be easly missed.

After several days and many miles walked through warehouses and showrooms over the course of last week I had selected well over a hundred antiques, all reserved and ready to ship in May. Some may have to wait for a later container but I’m already looking forward to getting the majority of these pieces in our showroom soon, and to sharing them with you on our website even sooner. We should have the first set of antiques up on the site within the next 2-3 weeks so look out for these under our ‘new arrivals’ section.

Amongst these pieces, as ever, are one or two that really stand out for me. These include a gorgeous Shanxi armoire in its original red lacquer and still with it original hardware on the doors and with the old ‘miao jin’ gold paintings intact, now feint but clearly depicting a Chinese peacock and peony flowers – symols of high rank and wealth. Also a wonderfully well preserved medicine chest, also from Shanxi province and dating from the early 19th century. Unusually the chest still has its original hardware, as well as the old labels on each of its 21 drawers describing what would once have been held inside. Lastly, a simple but beautifully proportioned elm desk from around 1850, decorated with stylised dragon carvings on the front, back and sides – a sign that it would have belonged originally to someone of very high status.

Look out also in the coming weeks for new accessories on our website, many of which I picked up at Beijing markets during my trip. These include more stoneware, including buddhas, horses and figurines, tibetan artwork, and some beautiful bronze vases with silver inlay.

 

 

13 Apr 2015

In Shanghai to check on the first shipment to leave the new factory

Posted by James Cottrell. No Comments

My latest trip to China started with a quick catch up with our production manager, Michael, over dinner last Wednesday evening after checking into my hotel here in Shanghai. We met again the next morning to head out to the factory on the outskirts of the city that produces our Chinese Classical furniture. At the end of last year our production unit here moved to a new location, not far from the previous facility but with bigger and better premises. This was the first chance I’d had to see the new site and I was pleased to see that everything seemed to have settled in very quickly.

The factory move took more than a full week to complete, and included moving the workers’ own personal possessions as well as machinery and materials. The vast majority of carpenters and other staff (including cooks and cleaners) live on site, returning to their home provinces sometimes hundreds of miles away for Chinese New Year and other public holidays. A move like this therefore provides even more of a logistical challenge than it would do in the UK.

A few months after the move (and after the long New Year holiday), the new factory is very much up and running. With just one or two exceptions all of the workers from the previous factory made the move, so the skill base and experience in making Shimu furniture has been maintained.

I had timed this visit to Shanghai so that I could inspect the pieces that are to be included on our next container, due to be loaded on Wednesday this week and shipped a few days later. Most of these pieces were already finished, other than the final hardware being added and last minute checks. As always we have several ‘made to order’ items due to ship out on this container. These pieces were all finished to the woodwork stage so that I could make final checks myself on the designs, and discuss the finish to be applied where this was not standard.

It was great to be involved at first hand at this stage of the production process, a chance I rarely get as I am normally in the UK relying on photos and communication from the staff here in Shanghai. Along with Michael and the head of the ‘lacquering’ staff I was able to make specific tweaks to a lacquer, adding small amounts of yellow, red and black to the original grey colour the factory had produced. The objective was to achieve a particular colour (Farrow & Ball ‘Mole’s Breath to be exact), that one of our interior design customers has specified for a client’s TV cabinet. After forty minutes or so of repeatedly mixing lacquers, loading into a spray gun and applying the colour to a wood sample, we had managed to reach something very close to the paint sample provided by the designer. Allowing for the fact that a last polish and layer of varnish will darken the final colour slightly, we should be able to get an almost exact match.

It was great to see the various stages of the production process – everything from the woodwork completion to sanding, sealing, polishing, all the various stages of lacquering and finishing, right through to adding the brass hardware and final touches. By the time this blog post is published everything will be finished, checked and packed ready for loading in a day or two.

I spent the next couple of days checking out some new designs and a huge array of accessories with Michael and other staff. The factory here provides furniture for the internal Chinese market as well as for Shimu, and as a fairly recent venture the owners have launched a new brand together with an interior designer to offer a broader selection of products for the home, with showrooms being set up in Shanghai and other major cities around China. Over the coming months and years we plan to offer many of these products as part of the Shimu range in the UK and Europe, so look out for the new collections of lamps, ornaments, wall art and other home décor later this year.

More to follow soon as I head to Beijing to catch up with our suppliers there and to source Chinese antiques for our next container.

 

2 Apr 2015

Heading out to China for another antiques hunt

Posted by James Cottrell. No Comments

After a short break over Easter I will be heading off to China again next week to meet up with suppliers and to source more antiques and home accessories to be shipped on our forthcoming containers. First stop will be Shanghai, where I have timed my visit so that I can check personally on a shipment of elm furniture in our Classical Chinese range before it leaves a few days later.

It is now twelve years since I first visited the workshop that produces this range exclusively for Shimu. Whilst their business has changed to focus more on the internal market over that time, they still retain a core number of highly skilled carpenters and ‘patina’ workers that have worked on our furniture over many years and who understand the nature of the product. It’s always good to see these faces again each time I visit Shanghai and, as well as making sure the quality of our standard pieces remains consistent, going at this time means that I can also check on the ‘bespoke’ items of furniture that will be shipped in a couple of weeks, ready for delivery to customers around the end of May.

From Shanghai I fly to Beijing to spend several days visiting the various suppliers and warehouses where I source the antique Chinese furniture that has become such a big part of Shimu’s offering. Again, I’ve known some of these business owners and their staff for many years so it’s great to catch up with their news and views on the antiques market – often over a meal cooked on site using some of the produce grown in the factory grounds.

We already have about 20 or 30 antiques lined up from when I was last over in China, but I’ll be looking to select another 60 or so pieces to ship with these around the beginning of May, along with some reproduction furniture and more accessories. I try to mix antiques from different parts of China to provide our customers with the widest choice of style and finish.

Different antique restorers in Beijing tend to have their own contacts for sourcing antiques from around China, so they will each lean towards antiques from specific regions. One of my favourite suppliers always seems to have superb elm and walnut pieces from Shanxi province in central China that others can rarely match, and restores these in a very natural way to maintain the beautiful original character. Another always has a good choice of painted furniture from Gansu in the west, which they restore with a new, shiny varnish that brings out the vivid colours and designs.

On each visit recently I’ve tried to find at least one piece that, whilst not being the type of museum quality hardwood furniture that sells these days at Sotheby’s or Christies for tens of thousands of pounds, is still very special. The Chinese themselves have become far more interested recently in good quality ‘vernacular’ antique furniture in elm and other woods that they previously felt were of little interest. As a result prices for these items have dramatically increased over the past few years.

Once such example is a huge, imposing painted armoire that we shipped on our last container and have just added onto our website. This now has pride of place in our showroom and I can admire it as I type this post. It dates from the mid nineteenth century and stands at around four and a half feet wide by well over seven feet high! Four of us struggled to unload it off the container and bring it up the few steps into our main showroom, but the effort was definitely worth it after we removed the packaging.

The armoire is from Shanxi province, and is in a wonderfully original condition – the once bright red lacquer and paintings of flowers, birds, butterflies and blossom now softened over the years to lovely autumnal reds, browns and oranges. This style of piece, with an open shelf section above the doors, is referred to in China as a display cabinet (or ‘wanli’). The top section would have held the owner’s prized possessions for display, whilst books and other personal items would have been stored behind the large doors. The shelf in this case is framed with some wonderful open carvings that include a central long life symbol, along with carved bats at each corner to signify good luck.

As well as the beautiful design, the cabinet’s impressive size and proportions – finished off with the old, heavy brass door hardware – make it the ultimate statement piece, although you will need a large space to house it! We’re not in a rush to find it a new home as this type of unique, good quality piece will only increase in value, but it’s well worth an admiring look if you’re passing the Shimu showroom any time soon.

19 Mar 2015

Shabby chic: the trend that refuses to die

Posted by James Cottrell. No Comments

The phrase shabby chic was coined in the eighties by British designer Rachel Ashwell in an interview with the newly-launched World of Interiors magazine.

In 2014, shabby chic was the most popular search term on eBay in the Homes and Gardens category, and last year, more that 3,000 shabby chic items sold every day on the auction site.

Shabby chic is a thrown together, vintage style. Furniture shows signs of wear or layers of paint, fabrics are faded and accessories are quirky antiques. Hues are generally muted (white floorboards are popular) but brighter tones can be added for a more eclectic mix. Done well, it creates a comfortable, bohemian feel in a modern home.

Classic shabby chic style

The trend probably arose as a backlash to the grandiose style of the eighties, when homes were either swamped with swags of fabric and floral pelmets, or cold and minimal with magnolia walls and pristine black furniture. Shabby chic, with its relaxed, laid-back vibe, was an antidote to status-seeking eighties style.

The look has gone from strength to strength and shows no sign of fading. You no longer have to scour vintage fairs and junk yards for covetable items, but can instead buy pre-distressed pieces with that ‘worn-in’ look from retail stores and across the web.

Eclectic shabby chic

Shabby chic has much to offer a busy family. A house can evolve over time, with new pieces happily added to the mix. Unlike minimalism – a trend only for the keenly house proud – this style tolerates a relaxed approach to cleaning. It’s great for children, as any knocks, chips or bashes are easily integrated when your furniture is (or looks) ‘pre-loved’.

I’m a great fan of the style and my house is filled with a mix of Oriental antiques and modern pieces with that pre-worn feel. Our new Beijing Blue collection is a perfect example of furniture which is designed for a modern home and yet looks like it’s been around forever. Each piece is handcrafted from chunky reclaimed pine wood and finished with distressed black lacquer frames and contrasting powder blue doors. The finish is different on every one, making each cabinet, console or wardrobe in the range unique.

Shimu’s take on shabby chic with the new Beijing Blue collection

You can see the full Beijing Blue collection at our website, plus an extensive selection of antiques. Why not also check out our shabby chic Pinterest board for inspiration?

 

17 Feb 2015

What will the Year of the Goat bring?

Posted by James Cottrell. No Comments

Today marks the start of the Chinese New Year celebrations, and ushers in the Year of the Goat. After the tumultuous Year of the Horse, many Chinese astrologers are predicting a calmer atmosphere, with a theme of renewal and creativity.

Those familiar with the Chinese Zodiac will know that as well as the 12 year cycle of animals,  there are five elements (wood, fire, earth, metal and water) which are each associated with their own ‘life force’ or ‘chi’. In 2015, the corresponding element is wood, associated with spring and the renewal of life.

If last year was the horse’s year to gallop and take off, this year will be the year for contemplating and appreciating what has already been accomplished, to think about bringing goodness to others, to take a deep breath and calmly look at what’s ahead. A steady path, generosity, and keeping the peace are this year’s mantra, say many.

However, it’s not all good news. Couples are taking heed of a popular Chinese folk saying – ‘Only one in ten people born in a year of the goat finds happiness’ – and many have taken steps to avoid conception or to give birth in the year of the horse.  Although only a superstition, many believe that goats are destined for failed marriages, unhappy families and bad luck, and that babies born in a goat year will grow up to be followers rather than leaders.

There is also some confusion in the English-speaking world as to whether it’s actually the year of the goat at all. The symbol for the new year starting on February 19 is the ‘yang’, which is a generic term, and can refer to a sheep, goat, ram or even antelope. For example, a goat is a ‘mountain yang’, a sheep is a ‘soft yang’ and a Mongolian gazelle is a ‘yellow yang’. Both goats and sheep appear in Chinese new year paintings, paper-cuts and other festival decorations.

It is thought that the people born in the year of the goat are calm, gentle, polite, intelligent and kind, as well as artistic and creative. They are economical and approach business cautiously, taking great care to consider the feelings of others. Famous goats include inventors Thomas Edison and Steve Jobs, both known for creativity and perseverance. However, goats can also be overly-sensitive and insecure, as they often misinterpret situations. Their need to be loved means they are sometimes unable to stand up for themselves. They tend to shy away from confrontation and are not confident decision-makers.

According to Chinese astrologers, luck within careers will fluctuate for those born in the year of the goat and their financial fortune will only be average. However, they are said to possess a power to turn their fortunes around – so when things seem bleak, their luck may change. This year looks good for health.

Whatever you believe, we wish you a happy and prosperous New Year!

Sources: Yahoo News, International Business Times

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