Cultural symbolism turned treasure: Antique clock appraised at 199 million baht on TV show

Photo: Sanook

A Chinese son-in-law narrowly avoided a cultural faux pas when his birthday gift to his father-in-law, an antique clock, caused unexpected upset due to its cultural symbolism of death in Chinese culture. The tension was soon diffused when the antique timepiece was appraised on a television show and found to be worth over 199 million baht.

When giving a gift, the symbolic meaning is often as crucial as the object itself. A lapse in judgement can lead to misunderstandings, potentially fracturing relationships. This was precisely the case when a Chinese son-in-law gifted a clock to his father-in-law for his birthday.

The sight of the gift caused the father-in-law’s face to turn pale, followed by an outburst of anger. In Chinese culture, gifting a clock is seen as taboo, as the phrase “giving a clock” sounds similar to “attending a funeral.”

The son-in-law, oblivious to the cultural symbolism, had unintentionally wished death upon his father-in-law. Despite swiftly explaining that the clock was a valuable antique, the father-in-law remained sceptical. To prove his claims, the son-in-law suggested they get the clock appraised on the CCTV television show Asset Appraisal.

On the programme, the large clock was the centre of attention. The son-in-law detailed the urgency of the appraisal, fearing the gift may ruin his relationship with his father-in-law. This revelation prompted laughter from the audience.

Rare Find

When the experts stepped on stage to examine the clock, their excitement became palpable. They wound the clock, observed its exterior, and set the time to test its functionality. As the alarm rang, a waterfall flowed from the top of the clock, revealing a movable old man figurine and a playing band.

The experts confirmed that the clock was indeed a rare find.

“This is a real eye-opener!”

The expert then explained that it was a Western clock, made during the Ming Dynasty, intricately designed both externally and internally, hence the value exceeding 40 million yuan (199 million baht). They speculated that the clock could have been presented to an ancient Chinese emperor at the end of the Ming Dynasty by a Western ambassador.

Upon hearing the appraisal, the father-in-law couldn’t help but beam with joy, astonished at the unexpected value of the gift.

The son-in-law breathed a sigh of relief. However, this incident serves as a reminder to us all to consider the deeper cultural symbolism hidden within gifts. A lack of understanding can lead to unforeseen misunderstandings, reported Sanook.

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China NewsWorld News

Samantha Rose

Samantha was a successful freelance journalist who worked with international news organisations before joining Thaiger. With a Bachelor's degree in Journalism from London, her global perspective on news and current affairs is influenced by her days in the UK, Singapore, and across Thailand. She now covers general stories related to Thailand.

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