Charity founder donates Tang horseMonday, May 4 2009
By Celine Sun
As antiquarian Victor Choi Wang-kuing describes it, his life can be divided into three phases.
In his first 20 years, he developed his hobby of collecting things; from the age of 20 to 50, he established his antiques business; after 50, he has enjoyed the freedom to do the things he is genuinely interested in and make contributions to the community with his expertise and wealth.
Now 56, Mr Choi, a successful antiques dealer and collector, spends much more time on charity projects than on the business he has been running for nearly three decades.
The founder of the Dragon Culture Charity Fund, Mr Choi has donated a Tang dynasty pottery horse from his personal collection to the Homes for Hope project initiated by the South China Morning Post for reconstruction in earthquake-hit areas in Sichuan.
The horse will be auctioned with four other art pieces at a gala dinner hosted by the Post on May 12, the first anniversary of the Sichuan quake.
All the proceeds will go to the charity project to help 3,000 villagers in Sichuan rebuild homes and infrastructure.
According to Mr Choi, the most important reason for him to get involved is because many children can benefit from the project.
"I was determined to join in when I learned that the project would help improve children's living conditions," he said.
"This is definitely a meaningful cause to support."
Dragon Culture usually participates in education-oriented charity activities. Over the past two years, Mr Choi has donated more then HK$1 million to mainland schools in deprived areas.
In Hong Kong, he has been a leader in initiating several scholarship programmes at St Paul's School, Gertrude Simon Lutheran College and Chinese University.
"I always believe the best way for one to contribute to society is to take advantage of what one is good at," he said.
For Mr Choi, what he is good at is related to antiques, which are both his hobby and his business.
From collecting bus tickets, matches and cigarette boxes in his childhood, he expanded his collection as he grew up to ancient Chinese paintings, bronze Buddhas, porcelain and other art pieces.
In the 1970s, he took advantage of a golden opportunity to expand his collection during the Cultural Revolution, when artefacts could be bought from antique stores and exported legally from the mainland.
In the 1980s, Mr Choi opened his first antiques store in Taiwan, and more in Hong Kong and New York.
Currently, he owns about 30,000 antique pieces.
Pottery horses from the Tang dynasty (AD618-907) are an important part of his collection.
"In ancient China, the horse was always an auspicious symbol, standing for gallantry, health and success," he said.
To share his passion for and knowledge of antique pottery horses, Mr Choi wrote and published Horses for Eternity, which illustrates the evolution of horses in the art of dynastic China, introducing every major style of Chinese pottery horse from the Han to the late Ming dynasty.
All proceeds from sales of the book go to his fund to support education projects.
Talking about the Tang pottery horse he has offered to Homes for Hope, Mr Choi said: "To help Sichuan people is possibly the most significant mission it can ever fulfil."
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