Asian accents

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October 21, 2001|By Julie Klavens | By Julie Klavens,SUN STAFF

We don't deliberately don the hat of amateur sociologist/anthropologist when window-shopping and perusing catalogs - but as we've noticed the increasing popularity of items from Asia or with clear Asian influences, we can't help wondering whether their attraction during these chaotic times lies partly in their successful blend of complexity and tranquillity. Consider, for example, a clean-lined vase adorned with an intricate pattern.

At the very least, we'll argue that ancient cultures, particularly those that gave rise to Buddhism and Hinduism, can teach the comparatively adolescent Americans and Europeans a thing or two about contemplation, unity and beauty.

Lounging around: For those occasions when one feels like Goya's "Maja Desnuda," Manet's "Olympia" or the latter-day masculine equivalent, sumptuous bed linens are a must. Sari-inspired pillows, shams and quilts, $39 to $449, depending on size, at www.thecompanystore.com.

Scent and sight: Delicate sachets, with images of Hindu deities, sweeten closets and drawers but beg to be left out on display. From $6, depending on size, at Mud and Metal, 813 W. 36th St., Baltimore, 410-467-8698.

Good tastes: Sari-inspired table linens bring grace and elegance to the most mundane dining room. Place mats ($13), napkins ($16) and tablecloths ($150 to $250, depending on size) at Yves Delorme, 10751 Falls Road (Greenspring Station), Lutherville, 410-828-4777.

You're in luck: Share these Indian lacquer-and-rhinestone pens - reminiscent of Indian bangles that are said to bring luck to the wearer - with friends. Set of eight pens, $20 at www.eziba.com.

Sipping serenely: For centuries, graceful teapots have been created by master ceramicists from Yixing, considered the pottery capital of China. Follow tradition and brew tea for one in one of these tiny treasures (each 3 to 5 inches tall), or line them up on a ledge to create a perfect still life. $55 to $75 at www.eziba.com.

The nature of things: The Torii Gate - a Japanese symbol for leaving the physical world and entering the spiritual world - seems an appropriate model for an object that encourages one to sit quietly and observe the natural world. Made from cedar, the 7-inch-tall feeder comes with a bag of black Russian sunflower seeds. $48 at www.redenvelope.com.

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