Updated 5 years 8 months ago

Note to reader: Some of the sources' names will be kept unknown because the following could affect their business and their personal lives negatively. Please note that all of the ideas that will be later displayed have been created by an researcher who spent around four weeks having many conversations with the antique dealers in Xizhou. Of course in every industry, there are numerous different professional opinions, the following is an attempt to find common ethical behaviors that apply in most situations. 

Introduction:

I believe that learning from and connecting with local antique dealers/experts about the economics of the market, the trading process of antiques, and the symbolism of antiques allows numerous opportunities for interesting and significant conversations with the local people. I feel that over the course of meeting different antique experts in the village I have not only learned quite a lot about the antiques in general. In the process I've about the culture and the history of this village as well as ideas of morality and ethics in this industry. 

I decided to investigate and learn about antiques for my inquiry project because throughout my life I have been surrounded by them, and over time I started to become fascinated with such items. My father has collected antiques for quite some time and seems to have a deep understanding of it. I feel that through this project with the help and with antique dealers in the village, I would develop a stronger understanding of antiques. I think that one of my best sources would be the dealer in Shi Fang Jie (the town square), I chose her as one of my sources because she was recommended to me by several people and I was told that she and her husband had a great relationship with the Linden Centre. Another source that was really helpful to me would be a dealer next to Ran Yi Xiang road. He helped a lot by introducing me to the differences between real and replica antiques. The type of questions I types of questions I was trying to answer were mainly related to the trade of antiques. Which allowed me to see the ethical code that guides the antique trade in Xizhou. As a final product I hope to develop a code of ethics and compare it to other ethical codes for antique trade found online. 

The Code of Ethics:

There are various considerations and ideas of ethical behaviors that vendors in the village of Xizhou, Yunnan possess. Each antique dealer's perspective on dishonesty and trade vary and it is unclear to quite a number of dealers, but there seems a generic synthesis of rules that the traders agree to. While there are a few exceptions found in the village, on average the idea of dishonesty is not disapproved in the local antique industry. The majority of the antique dealers show that there are five major factors that affect their behavior, including relationships, trust, money, loyalty, and physiology needs. Dishonesty in the antique market is not necessarily a negative idea, it is rare to find an antique dealer that is completely honest in Xizhou. The idea of dishonesty is just part of the process of trade in the antique industry. If one was cheated it shows to not be the antique dealer's fault, It is just due to the fact that one was not careful. However, there is still an unknown code of ethical behavior during trade that is in place, this may allow the reader to fully understand the reasons of dishonesty and to become more familiar with the antique market. Compared to the collection of ethical codes found from online sources the codes show to be different.

a comparism of the ethical codes in antique trade that seem to be in place in Xizhou with other codes found from online sources.
Synthesis of Guidelines for Ethical Behavior During Antique Trade from a Collection of Online Sources.

Synthesis of Guidelines for Ethical Behavior During Antique Trade from Different Xizhou Antique Dealers. (The Antique Dealers of Xizhou)

 The dealer should deal honestly with all customers and dealers, and identify fake items as non-antiques or as reproductions while providing as much information about The piece as possible. (1)                                                                       The dealer should deal honestly if the customer is a friend or a mutual friend, If not the dealer would have no requirement to tell the truth of the item they are selling. However, The dealer should refrain from losing trust from society. 
Fair pricing procedures will always be used. No overpricing or price changing is allowed. (2) The dealer should sell antiques to loyal customers or customers who show to have knowledge about this field at a fair and reasonable price, if not the dealer would have no requirement of doing so.
The dealer should treat everyone the same regardless the customer. (1) The dealer should gain trust from people who are loyal and visit often, they would have no obligation to be honest if the customers are just daily visitors. 
The dealer should have timely and descriptive conversations with customers. (2)

The dealer should keep steady and positive relationships with customers who are loyal and visit often, even if they do not buy items from the shop every time, the antique dealer should serve them tea and have conversations with them.

The dealer should never misrepresent any information of the item held for sale. (3) 

The dealer should be honest if not doing so would cause a negative impact on their business, in other words the dealer can be dishonest and not reveal the truth about the information of a piece as long as if they could get away with it. 

A price must be fixed on to The item to be sold, as well as a description of The item. (4)

The dealer should have some sort of understanding of all the pieces that they own, but they may not need to reveal the truth. (price and time made)

The dealer should strive to increase their knowledge on antiques. (3)  The dealer should constantly increase their knowledge on antiques. 
The dealer should have a fair and reasonable refund policy. (2) The dealer should have a refund policy in case if a buyer would like to return the piece.
   

The main difference between ethical behavior in antique trade in Xizhou, Yunnan and ethical guidelines online is the idea of honesty. Ethical codes and guidelines found online identifies that each antique dealer must be completely honest no matter who the customer is. In Xizhou the concept of caveat emptor (let the buyer beware) is more strongly emphasized, and there is not really any requirement for an antique dealer to be honest. Again the idea of being dishonest is not disapproved in the antique market of this village. For a dealer in Xizhou, unless if being dishonest would have a negative impact on the trader's business, it is perfectly fine to do so. If one was cheated while buying antiques it would just be viewed as one not having the amount of knowledge needed, and that one was not careful. In the antique market of Xizhou, being dishonest is perfectly normal as long as the dealer can get away with it.     

Xizhou Antique Dealer's Code of Ethics: The following is a more detailed description of the ethical codes in the antique industry of Xizhou. 

The dealer should deal honestly if the customer is a friend or a mutual friend, If not the dealer would have no requirement to tell the truth of the item they are selling. However, The dealer should refrain from losing trust from society. 

This code requires the antique dealer to deal honestly with friends or mutual friends. In Xizhou, the idea of trust has great significance on one's life especially in the antique industry. A trader in this industry would definitely require these relationships with other customers because the larger amount of relationships, and the better those relationships are, there would be a notable growth of customers that the antique dealer would receive. However, the trader would have the no obligation to be honest if the customer shows to be otherwise, In the west this concept is known as caveat emptor, the buyer alone should be responsible for checking the quality and the sustainability of the goods.  

The dealer should sell antiques to loyal customers or customers who show to have knowledge about this field at a fair and reasonable price, if not the dealer would have no requirement of doing so.

This code again requires the antique dealers to ensure they are not losing trust from society. This ethical code is quite straight forward, one should refrain from being viewed as untrustworthy; however, one has no obligation to be honest. As long as the vendor could not lose trust from others while being dishonest he could do so. By showing to be dishonest to a collector who shows to have knowledge on this particular industry would cause the dealer to be viewed as dishonest and to start losing business. 

The dealer should gain trust from people who are loyal and visit often, they would have no obligation to be honest if the customers are just daily visitors. 

The ideas of trust and connection are probably the most significant concepts within each dealer in this industry. strong and positive relationships are essentially the fundamentals of a successful business in the antique market. I build upon existing relationships and increasing the number of connections would allow the business to grow, doing so would perhaps be one of the top priorities for an antique dealer.     

The dealer should keep steady and positive relationships with customers who are loyal and visit often, even if they do not buy items from the shop every time, the antique dealer should serve them tea and have conversations with them.

This code is relatively simple, as explained from before relationships and connections are the keys to success in the antique industry. To cause existing relationships with customers to crumble would only cause the number of customers an antique dealer would receive to decrease. Receiving a high number of customers who constantly visit the dealer would be the first sign of becoming more and more successful.  

The dealer should be honest if not doing so would cause a negative impact on their business, in other words the dealer can be dishonest and not reveal the truth about the information of a piece as long as if they could get away with it. 

The idea of trust would be highly important to most dealers, and losing trust would mean losing possibilities for the business that they own to strive and become successful. For an antique dealer this does not mean that the vender must be a hundred percent honest, the antique dealer would be permitted to be dishonest as long as it would not negatively affect their business, or cause them to be viewed as dishonest.

The dealer should have some sort of understanding of all the pieces that they own, but they may not need to reveal the truth. (price and time made)

There is not much to be said about this code of ethical behavior in the antique industry. The antique dealer would be expected to have basic knowledge of pieces they own. Unlike online sources, most pieces found in Xizhou do not contain a piece of writing that contains all background details of the piece. The antique dealer should at least know the dynasty the piece was made and if the piece was real or fake.   

The dealer should constantly increase their knowledge on antiques. 

This code just requires the antique dealer to continue learning and working with different antiques. With modern technology it is getting more difficult to identify replicas while searching for antiques. Even experts in this field, dealers who had worked with antiques for over twenty years could still have chances of buying something that is not considered legitimate in the antique industry. 

The dealer should have a refund policy in case if a buyer would like to return the piece.

This code again has to deal with the eyes of society, trust, and relationships, and it is also fairly simple. If a buyer realizes that they have been cheated and takes the piece they bought before back to the shop the vendor would most likely give a refund. This is mainly just to prevent having a reputation of selling fakes in the eyes of society, again an antique dealer could be dishonest as long as they would not be viewed as being so. 

Final Notes: 

The reader should keep in mind that this final product was not created to discourage the Xizhou way of antique trade, mainly to display the differences and similarities between ethical behavior in the antique industry. Even though the idea of honesty isn't the center of antique trade, the experts of Xizhou were still very honest and open towards me. I feel that they are all really great people, and I appreciate their time and attention. 

Sources: 

(1) http://www.antiquesinmd.com/code-of-ethics.html

(2) http://www.rulen.com/ahead/code.htm

(3) http://en.wikicollecting.org/minnesota-antiques-dealers-association

(4) http://www.nadda.org/ethics.html

- Dealers on SFJ

- Dealer around RYX road area 

- Mr. T

Reflection:

Microcampus was a exceedingly unique experience, and I familiarized myself with a great deal of significant life lessons and concepts. This trip to Xizhou, Yunnan allowed me to learn more about the unknown parts of China. Many of the ideas I was introduced to where foreign to me, I learnt to become more responsible and independent, and that if I am really determined into reaching a goal, and if much effort is put into doing so, it will be achieved. 

I came to Microcampus basically without any knowledge on my topic, I hoped that during this trip I would be able to identify the difference between a real and a replica antique, I thought that most antique dealers here would be completely honest, but I was wrong. Nearly all of the antique traders in Xizhou showed that they have a different idea of the concept of honesty, it seems like they would become dishonest with a customer if they are able to get away with it. While I was at Xizhou I also realized that It takes years of experience to identify antique replicas, even experts now get confused at times. That is probably the most important thing I took away from this experience, sometimes it would take an extremely lengthy time to achieve an objective, or to be able to learn how to complete something. in the course of this time I also learnt the importance of independence and staying on task. On an ordinary day of Microcampus, we would usually have a four hour block of work time called WIPPI. During this time we would be required to work on wellness, inquiry project, and work on pitching in, if we were doing what we are supposed to do we would have a hard time catching up later on. In Shanghai, we do as we are told, our parents and schools create schedules for us, but if you don't have the ability to create a schedule and stay on task here , you will fall behind and you will have a very miserable time. 

In the beginning I focused on antiques including the trade and the symbolism of these items. As I started developing my plan for my final project and interviewed more and more people, my focus shifted from the differentiation of real and replica antiques to the ethical behaviors of antique dealers in Xizhou.The main reason of this focus adjustment was due to the fact that my previous inquiry focus would take at least over twenty years of experience with antiques. I believe that this topic change allowed me to get a better understanding of the antique industry and probably end as a better final product. The reason that I am more fascinated with the ethical behavior of the antique industry is because now I not only get a better understanding of antiques but also I could understand the motivations of dealers in this village. This is important because this would allow one to understand why an antique dealer would sometimes show to be dishonest.  

One of the most difficult parts of my research would trying to communicate with local villagers and experts, in Xizhou most of the local citizens speak a different dialect than we do and can be hard to understand. Luckily, most of my sources were able to speak relatively understandable mandarin. But to me, unable to understand others is still a major road block. It would always take a long time to try to understand the full meaning out of the words that the villagers there spoke, at rare occasions I would even need a translation. However, I feel that the dialect difference complication could be easily overcome. For me, I would normally take a recording while speaking with my sources therefore if I do not fully understand any piece of information all I need to do is to ask for help.

I honestly feel that throughout the time at Microcampus there wasn't much  "a-ha" moments. To be exact there was only one, and frankly it was quite disappointing. During my research I would constantly be told that identifying if an antique is real or replica only comes from experience and even experts could be tricked by modern technology. I never really came to my senses to accept that, for almost twenty days or so I was determined to find out specific details about different antiques, hoping that I could answer my question. But finally when I met Mr. Yang at the antique shop I accepted the fact that this could not be done in a short period of time. He explained how he and his wife worked in the antique industry for over twenty years and how they could still have a possibility of purchasing a fake. That was sadly my greatest "a-ha" moment; however, it did inspire me to change the focus of my project and to continue working with antiques. I'm extremely grateful for everything Mr. Yang taught me. 

This project really allowed me to have meaningful and significant connections and learning opportunities with the antique dealers of Xizhou, and most importantly allowed me to have a better understanding of the topic that I came to investigate as well as myself. For this project, the internet is no longer going to be your first "go to" source, the only people who can help would be the experts in the village (as well as Mr. T and Mrs. Mai). I learnt that the best way to get information for this project is just to be curious and to ask around, there is no better way to learn! Through this process, I not only developed a better understanding of my topic but also an ability to communicate and to connect with others. Also in this process I learnt more about myself, because by communicating with others and being around people you don't necessarily know, you develop an awareness of your strengths and weaknesses in handling the situation. As well as areas you would need to work on to improve your social skills. The internet does not always contain the best information, the fact that the person providing the information is unknown could add to the possibility of the information being unreliable. The best way is just to talk and to learn from an expert face to face, I think that way you would get the most out of it. 

I think that if I could repeat this research project again, or to work on completing a project that is similar I would definitely wish to make sure that all of the information collected is valid. Also some other advise that would have helped me would be to start developing positive relationships with the local people earlier on in the trip, because I feel that with these positive relationships it would allow me to have a wider variety of choices when picking my partners for service learning. Also because it's just nice to have more connections with people in the village. 

If I were to continue on this research project, I would wish to investigate the symbolism of antiques in a deeper level, which means asking around more often. I would really like to also figure out if the code of ethical behavior that I had developed would also apply in different places, meaning not only Xizhou but also other places in China. I would probably also want an insight on the creation of replicas. If another Microcampus student were to expand on my project, I would suggest to start out with talking with Brian Linden and Mrs. Ma, as well as Mr. Yang Shu (Mrs. Ma's husband). That would probably give them enough background information to move on into details in the antique industry, and also don't go too much in detain with real and replica antiques because again even experts these days could get tricked. 

Acknowledgements:

- I would like to thank Mr. Tafel for all the support he has given me during my project, all the nagging about staying on task and keeping up, most importantly all the time he put in this to make this trip possible. 

- I would like to thank Mrs. Mai and Xiao Tang for encouraging us and never giving up on us during the entire Microcampus trip. 

- I would like to thank Mrs. Ma and Mr. Yang Shu for all the time they spent teaching me about antiques and bringing me along on antique buying trips.

- I would like to thank Mr. Zhu for helping me by providing me with valuable information about antiques during this time. 

 

 

Hi, I'm Yi Fei and I've survived attending this Microcampus program. Being in Yunnan has been a delightful experience, I learnt quite a lot about the place we stayed at and about myself as a person. I am honored to have been able to attend this program.