Chapter 15 – Antique

When Professor Zhou learned that Pang Dun was saved by Xia Shao, Zhou Wang and his wife, bought good cigarettes and alcohol and took Pang Dun over to Xia GuoXi’s house to thank them.

Xia GuoXi didn’t take it too seriously, as he just thought that Xia Shao had pulled Pang Dun by the hand and prevented him from falling.
As for the story about lifting him the collar and spinning around in place, that was probably made up by the children.

Du Ping went home and was beaten up by his old man and he finally behaved for some time.

Ever since that day, Professor Zhou had become more kind toward Xia Shao and even taught her homework with great dedication.
Soon, he discovered something that pleased him even more.

Xia Shao had an excellent understanding of what she was learning, and her writing was better than the average child’s.
Maths were not even a problem for her.

Professor Zhou was overjoyed to have retired and taught a genius in the meantime?

He was overjoyed and had been saying ever since that it was a waste of talent for a child to learn only basic things.
After discussing with Xia GuoXi, he finally decided to bring Xia Shao to his home after her school and taught her some calligraphy and Chinese painting.

Xia GuoXi thought that this was a good thing so he didn’t go against it.
It was only when he remembered that his granddaughter, who had been neglected since young, suddenly grown so much since the start of the year.
Her well-doings made him look good and her studies were great, thus his attitude towards Xia Shao became much better.
When he was in a good mood, he turned a blind eye to the fact that Xia Shao ran to the mountains every morning, and didn’t bother with it anymore.

Xia Shao was also quite interested in Chinese studies so she agreed to learn.

From then on, she went to the mountain every morning and noon, after school, she went to Professor Zhou’s house and lived her life to the fullest.

Professor Zhou built another house not far away from Zhou Wang’s house.
It consisted of the main house with two rooms connecting the east and west.  The west room was where Xia Shao and Pang Dun learned calligraphy and Chinese painting.
Professor Zhou was Pang Dun’s second grand-uncle, and since Professor Zhou wanted to start a class, he simply dragged him along with him.

On this day after school, Xia Shao and Pang Dun came to the house.
They had just laid out the Xuan paper and inkstones on the table when they saw Professor Zhou entering the house with something in his hand carefully.

Pang Dun was curious and ran over to take a look at the table while asking: “Second grand-uncle, what are you holding?”

“Aiyo, be careful! Don’t touch it, don’t touch it! This is an antique, if it is broken, I’m going to be so heartbroken.” Professor Zhou protected the object as if it was very precious.

Xia Shao walked over and saw an inkstone was placed on the table.
Four sides of the inkstone were carved with a lingzhi-like cloud pattern, the stone was of fine quality, black and lustrous.

At the base of the inkstone, it was inscribed with cursive handwriting of ‘ChuanShan Zhang WenTao’ as well as ‘ChuanShan’, ‘The seal of Zhang WenTao’, ‘Governor of LaiZhou’ seal stamp and all were finely engraved in good condition.

Professor Zhou was so excited that he looked like a child who had found a treasure.
He didn’t care that the two children in front of him were just seven or eight years old as he shared his joy to them: “Let grand-uncle introduce to you, this inkstone was found when I’m passing by the antique market after a visit to the city’s Secondary School today! This Zhang WenTao was a scholar during the QianLong period of the Qing dynasty, a famous poet and calligrapher who served in the government of LaiZhou, and this inkstone bears the seal of the ‘Governor of LaiZhou’ on its base.
However, precisely because the inkstone was in such a good condition, with its mark and seal, and it consider as a high-quality DuanYan1, many people thought at that time that it must be a forgery! Hehe, in the end, I bought it for 100 yuan.
According to my twenty years of collecting experience, this inkstone is definitely an old pit, in all probability, I’ve picked a fortune!”

Professor Zhang spoke incredibly fast, and his excitement was evident at this time.
Pang Dun was dizzy from listening and nodded his head in a daze.
His face was full of admiration as he thought that his second grand-uncle was the most remarkable person in the world.

Xia Shao, however, fixed her gaze on this DuanYan when Professor Zhou was halfway through his explanation.

She had the feeling that the inkstone was giving her a strange vibe like it had some kind of ancient fluctuation on it.
Ever since she practiced the way of nurturing Qi on the mountain, Xia Shao’s perception of the vital energy of heaven and earth had become more acute and sensitive.
Thus, when she had this feeling, she immediately used the power of her Divine Eyes to check out the DuanYan on the table.

At this glance, she could see that around the DuanYan inkstone, a faint Qi was emanating from it.
Although it was not surrounded by a golden auspicious Qi like the jade gourd given to her by her ShiFu, this inkstone only emitted a faint Qi.

It was this Qi that made her feel ancient and tranquil.

Xia Shao’s heart stirred, could this DuanYan inkstone really be authentic?

“Some days later, I’ll go on a trip to the city again.
I know some old guys in the city that had retired.
I’ll take it to them to get an appraisal together!” Professor Zhou laughed.

Xia Shao tentatively told Tang ZongBo about the previous day’s events when she went up the mountain the next morning.
She didn’t mention her Divine Eyes but only stated that Professor Zhou had an old DuanYan inkstone and she felt tranquil after looking at it.

Tang ZongBo laughed at this and explained: “All things have a spirit.
Some old objects have been accumulated over the years and are tainted with the energy of heaven and earth.
Thus, people who often come into contact with these items will not only find peace of mind but will also increase their longevity.
However, this is only limited to those that come from proper sources, but most of those that come out of the tombs carry the aura of Yin and Evil.
If one is exposed to it for a long time, it is going to hurt their body.
Those who can communicate with the vital energy of heaven and earth, naturally have a sharper sense of such energy than ordinary people.
Unless they are magic artifacts, if not ordinary antiques are tainted with a relatively weak aura and even we, for most of the time, we’re unable to sense it.
At the height of our Xuan Sect, it was said that there were ancestors who could sense the rarefied of heaven and earth energy but it is impossible to have such people nowadays.”

When Xia Shao heard about this, her heart suddenly fluttered.
She could see the energy of heaven and earth with her Divine Eyes, did that mean that she could use it to identify antiques?

Although East City was a small third-tier city, in a few years it would become a famous ceramics and antique centre in the north.
In ancient times, an official kiln and several private kilns operated here, and many people in the East City have depended on making ceramics for their livelihoods for generations.

It was now the early summer of 1992 and the country’s economy had just entered a phase of rapid development.
In a few years, the ceramics industry would become the pillar industry of the East City and drove the development of the antique industry, with a collection boom era.

In Xia Shao’s memory, from about 1997 onwards, a street of ceramics and antiques appeared in the East City and bustling with activity.

Several ceramist and antique dealers had emerged, and this had even led to the development of some of the country’s most famous ceramic groups and antique magnates.
This had even made the small East City prosperous and a spectacle among the surrounding cities.

However, that was five years later.

The economy was just starting to develop from the coast and the wind had not yet blown to the East City.
Therefore, right now the economy was still in a slump.

On the contrary, that’s precisely why it was an opportunity right now! Wasn’t it?

Xia Shao’s eyes flashed a glint of light, nowadays the antique market was not too prosperous.
The collection boom had not yet arrived, the antique market was not very crowded and there were not so many people who came to the countryside to search for antiques yet.

That means it’s not that difficult to pick up some missing fortune at this time of the year.
Besides, she even had the power of the Divine Eyes, so it’s practically impossible to pick up a fake!

Xia Shao had some money on her, all because of her studies in the village.
Her mother Li Juan was afraid that she would ask her grandmother for money to buy snacks, so she didn’t confiscate the New Year’s money and gave it to her as pocket money for her to spend it sparingly.

It’s not a lot of money, but prices these days were much lower than what they had ten years later!

Xia Shao laughed and planned her hunt!

Every weekend, her parents would come back and take her back to the city for a couple of days, so Xia Shao took the opportunity to go and visit the antique market with her school bag, lying that she was going out with her friends.

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