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Sheryl Seamen

Vice Chair, Group 70 International, Pottery Collector

If you're ever invited to Sheryl Seamen's home, and she offers you some appetizers or snacks, be very careful.

Don't worry, her cooking is fine. It's her dinnerware. The bowl filled with macadamia nuts or miso soup may be more than 1,000 years old.

Photo: Olivier Koning

Seamen, vice chair of the architecture and planning firm Group 70 International, started collecting pottery from Changsha kiln in Hunan province in China several years ago. She first saw the pottery in a shop in Jakarta and was drawn to its rustic, yet elegant design. The kiln, which was in operation during the Tang Dynasty (618-909), produced pottery primarily for export throughout Southeast Asia.

"I like this particular style, because its graphic simplicity appeals to me," says Seamen. "But I also like the fact that this was the everyday-use dinnerware of the time. It was the Tang Dynasty version of Tupperware."

Seamen has collected 38 pieces so far, 30 small rice bowls, six serving bowls and a water and wine jug. She estimates that the collection is worth anywhere from $10,000 to $12,000, but that doesn't stop her from breaking out the antiques when guests come over for dinner.

"The pottery is a wonderful example of art in everyday life, and I like to share that with people," says Seamen. "However, when dinner is over, I'll clear the table and wash the dishes myself. And, of course, the bowls don't get anywhere near a microwave oven."

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Hawaii Business,December