A Bounty Brought in by the Sails of Fortune

China is one of Thailand’s most important trading partners. Almost all of the kingdom’s exports are sold at various Chinese port cities and Chinese goods make the same passage to consumers on Siamese soil.

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Over 500 years have elapsed since Siam and China established maritime trading relations in the Sukhothai era that have flourished throughout Ayutthaya and Rattanakosin periods.

Navigating a global economy that prefigures the transnational networks of today, seafaring Chinese merchants typically transported wares to neighboring countries on “junks”, Chinese vessels for international trade. These ships would return home laden with riches and valuable cargo such as silver, gold and porcelain and were indispensable to the expansion of business to foreign markets, which enabled Chinese merchants to build their wealth. Junks therefore became a symbol of travel and prosperity (especially in the sphere of business), and later on, model sailing ships became incorporated into the decoration of homes, restaurants and businesses as talismans that enhance the feng shui of a space.


According to the principles of feng shui, the Chinese junk is a catalyst of business and wealth. It will bring prosperity and good fortune, as well as ensure that business dealings proceed smoothly and without obstruction. Therefore, model sailing ships are a popular auspicious token that are believed to function as an asset to the success of the owners’ enterprises. Between the two kinds of sailing ship– distinguished by a curved or slanted sail– the principles that guide its placement in a space are the same. Crucially, the bow of the ship must face into the room with respect to the location of the door, as the ship can then be read as coming into harbor in the house, “bringing in” wealth. However, other feng shui traditions can suggest the opposite, proposing that the bow of the ship be angled towards the door in order to expand one’s business connections, perhaps through travel that is advantageous to business or leads to money-making opportunities– an alternative more appropriate to the workplace than the home. And in fact, rare indeed is the business that dares to test the fickle winds of the market without a model Chinese junk on its premises, from the early era of maritime trade to the present day.

Lot 503
A fine miniature silver in the form of junk
Style: Chinese
Dimensions: W 7.5 cm H 9 cm weight 38 gram
Circa: 20th Century
Estimated Price: 6,000 - 8,000 THB
Starting Price: 6,000 THB