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Treasure Hunting: Hong Kong-based Explorer Brings Back Real Tibetan Antiques from the Tea Horse Trail

By Localiiz 20 March 2014
March 20th 2014 If, like many Hong Kongers, you’re reluctant to shop for ‘antiques’ in Hollywood Road and Cat Street as you’re never quite sure you’re getting the genuine article, a pop-up shop coming to Sheung Wan next week might be worth a nosey. Tea Horse Treasure will showcase a small and eclectic collection of Tibetan artefacts, sourced directly from the families living along one of the oldest and most important trade routes of all time. For 13 centuries, the Tea Horse Trail - also known as the Ancient Tea Horse Road and the Southern Silk Road - was a busy trade route, stretching for 3,000 miles from China to Bengal via Burma and Tibet. The Chinese porters, often carrying more than their own body weight in ‘tea bricks’, swapped their goods for Tibetan ponies, which they trained as war horses to protect China’s northern borders against the Mongols. Today the trail is only treaded by intrepid explorers, such as Adrian Bottomley, owner of Hong Kong-based adventure trekking company Whistling Arrow. Over 15 years of trips along the route, the British national was regularly invited into Tibetan homes, where he was given the rare opportunity to procure artefacts directly from their local owners. "Most pieces had been in the possession of families for decades, with clear provenance and interesting stories to tell, making them very different from anything else to be found in Hong Kong," said Adrian. The pop-up shop (March 26th-30th) will showcase just 25 items, including a woolen tiger print meditation rug made with natural dyes, shaggy 'Dorje' rug from the isolated Wagden Valley, small but exquisite antique chests and unusual Tibetan wooden panel paintings. There will also be two striking examples of Buddhist Thangka paintings, courtesy of the Shangrila Cultural Preservation Society. Looking to buy more fine art pieces and not sure where to start? Shoppers will be served complimentary Pu'er 'brick' tea, and can feast their eyes on a slideshow of amazing photographs from Yading and Kawa Karpo, two of the best (and relatively undiscovered) pilgrimage treks in Eastern Tibet. Psst: if this has aroused your adventurous spirit, Whistling Arrow will be running a Kawa Karpo Trek from September 27th to October 13th this year.

What: Tea Horse Treasures pop-up shop When: March 26th – 30th 2014, daily 10am – 8pm Where: Little Square, GF, 21 Square Street, Sheung Wan, Hong Kong (map) Info: Visit the website

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