My father, Bill Talbot, came up with the concept of AsiaBarong over 35 years ago while he was working as a biologist in Australia and backpacking around Asia. As a child, he always dreamed of creating and owning an amusement park, and once you take a walk around AsiaBarong, you will see that what he has created is not far off. AsiaBarong is a mix between a museum – a place where you can spend a day wandering, learning, and teaching your children about cultures of the world – and a gallery filled with high quality ethnographic art, some of which is almost impossible to find anywhere else. Nestled in the hills of Berkshire County, walking into our store feels as if you’ve entered a whole new world.
One of our main goals is and has always been to be a fair trade company who supports families in Asia. From the time of the inception of AsiaBarong, my father always liked the idea of taking money from the first world and bringing it into the developing world – giving it directly to families in exchange for art. Because we work directly with artisan families we are able to mutually set prices that allow these families to thrive, which means we have created connections that have lasted for decades and have gone far past business relationships. Having maintained these relationships for so long, we are sometimes now buying from the children, and sometimes the grandchildren of the artisans we originally bought from. Not only do we help support families themselves, but because culture is expressed so heavily in art, we hope to help sustain the native cultures of these areas. In bringing these cultural pieces to America, we hope to inspire others to become interested and invested in sustaining these traditional cultures as well. In a sense, we like to think of this business as a family business that relies on all parties; we are a small, family owned business who buys directly from families and sells to families.
Our store is overflowing with more than 40,000 sculptures, furniture pieces, crafts, and antiques from all over Asia and we are a leading supplier of Asian art to American museums, movie companies, designers, architects, and collectors nationwide. Every year, we spend the winter in Asia visiting families with whom we have had a relationship with for years as well as building relationships with new artisans and their families. In the spring time, we import containers from various Asian nations, totaling more than 10,000 pieces imported per year. You can always follow our adventures across Asia by following us on Facebook (www.facebook.com/asiabarong) or Instagram (@asiabarong), where we post stories and photos of our travels.
One of our favorite parts of what we do, and something we believe to be special, is that we offer special ordering services, where we will look for or create anything by request. If you would like something that you’ve seen before but in a different size or material, or if you would like something that you can’t seem to find anywhere, or even if you have an idea for something that’s never been created anywhere except for in your mind, we will do our best to make your creation or desire a reality – and we communicate with you every step of the way. So, in the rare case that we do not have what you are looking for in our massive stock, we can help you get it.
The yards of our store are filled with completely rebuilt Asian houses amid a sea of granite, lava and marble sculpture. Motifs range from Japanese lanterns and foo dogs, to Chinese scholar stones and huge stone hot tubs. Inside is everything from musical instruments and puppets to Buddhist and Hindu art, sculpture, artifacts, and jewelry from virtually every nation in Asia. We even have a huge prayer wheel you can add your prayer into and give a spin. We pride ourselves on having a range of prices accessible for anyone – our pieces start at $1 for a small wood carving, and go up into the thousands for entire hand carved walls and house frames. I have heard time and time again that coming into our store is a bit of a sensory overload – there is a lot to see and every direction you look there is something new. When you come in, please do not hesitate to ask us for help finding something or just come into our office to relax and talk. If you do not have the chance to come in, you can view our Google 360, which gives you a virtual tour of our gallery – if you see anything you like when on the virtual tour, don’t be afraid to email us a screen shot and ask for more details.
As I have grown older, I have become more and more interested in integrating myself into AsiaBarong – and with that, I wanted to expand my father’s business to the internet so that we could reach people all over the world. I do try my best to get items up onto the website everyday – but I have to do so in between visiting guests – so when looking through our online catalog, please know that what you see here is in progress and only represents a small fraction of what we have in stock. Feel free to email or call us with specific inquiries as we may have just the piece you are looking for in store – it just hasn’t been added to our online catalog yet.
Lastly, to all our clients – past and future – thank you for supporting small, family owned businesses from all over the world. You are helping to keep something very special alive.
-Hannah Talbot (Daughter of owner, Bill Talbot)