Home Help

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 20 May, 2001, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 20 May, 2001, 12:00am

I love the idea of those overhead projectors that simulate the big screen in your living room. What do I need and can you suggest a good stockist?

Gary Chang replies: A full home theatre system usually comprises a LCD projector, a projector screen, a DVD player, an amplifier and a speaker.

LCD stands for liquid crystal display and normally works with a pull-down projector screen that can be operated manually or automatically with a motor. You can project an image on to a white wall, but a projector screen is made with reflective fabric that will enhance the quality of the image.

There are many different styles, sizes and models available for home theatre systems and it's best to research your options with a specialist.

Visit www.hometheater mag.com for more information or talk to the staff at Hi-Fi Gallery in the Miramar Shopping Centre, Tsim Sha Tsui (tel: 2730 0622), which stocks a range of systems to suit differing budgets.

I've installed a projector screen at the main window of my studio flat and by doing so, have the option of looking out at the real world or of creating a virtual world with a projector connected to the television set, computer or DVD player.

Another advantage of locating the screen by the window is that it simultaneously blocks out natural light so I can enjoy movies during the day without additional black-out curtains.

I'm interested in Chinese snuff bottles and keen to start a collection. Where can I find further information on the subject?

Pola Antebi replies: Chinese snuff bottles represent a small area in Chinese art but is a vastly popular subject for collectors and connoisseurs alike.

The habit of taking snuff - a mixture of pulverised tobacco leaves fermented with an addition of aromatic substances - was practised in China as early as the 17th century.

Originally, snuff was kept in small boxes but since they were not suitable for China's humid climate, they were replaced by small bottles with cork stoppers.

Snuff bottles were made from myriad materials including porcelain, metal, jade, amber, coral, turquoise, mother-of-pearl, gourd and glass. Each bottle had its own tiny spoon for easy application.

Snuff bottles were given as gifts by the emperor to members of the imperial family, high officials and visiting dignitaries.

Even the emperor Kangxi (1662-1722) was known to be a taker of snuff and his son, the Yongzheng emperor, bestowed a total of 130 taels of silver - a price equivalent to a substantial Mid-Levels apartment today - for a pair of bottles depicting geese in flight.

Current prices for the best and rarest bottles can cost as much but there are many bottles, particularly dating from the 19th century and later, that start at a few hundred dollars.

A note of caution: there are many good fakes on the market produced on the mainland so make sure your dealer is reputable and read up on the subject.

There are plenty of books on well-known private snuff bottle collections and one of the most comprehensive is The Art Of The Chinese Snuff Bottle, published by Weatherhill.

I also suggest you join the International Chinese Snuff Bottle Society at www.snuffbottle.org.