I bought a Vase on eBay (I know - not the best idea) that was advertised as a Late Yuan Vase.
Being brand new to Chinese porcelain altogether, I am wondering if you could help determine its authenticity. The dealer says the piece is authentic, and, as seen on the bottom of the piece in the picture, there is a red wax seal that the dealer states is a seal from the "China culture relic authority" (I've never heard of this before).
Other items of information in the description the dealer supplied: the design is a blue under-glaze, the vase originated from the Jingdezhen kilns, the vase is 8-sided, each with a flower pattern, and they call it a YuHuChun Vase, from the Yuan dynasty.
Just from reading up on your site, I feel relatively confidant that the piece is Chinese, due to the natural reddish-brown color of the unglazed area of the base. Other than that, I am completely going on the word of the dealer.
Are they right? I have enclosed several views of the vase for your inspection. Any help you could offer would be GREATLY appreciated. I was planning to give this as a gift this weekend to a friend who is of Asian descent - even though I like the design of this vase, I would feel better if I knew it was truly representative of my friend's heritage, and would like to confirm it's age.
To me this "Yuhuchun" (pear shaped) vase is a very recent copy. Fortunately enough, I would say, if you intend to give it away. A genuine one would easily run into some five figures, I believe US $ 15,000 would be a bargain for a genuine vase like this.
It is still a good copy though. If you look carefully at the blue pigment, you can see it is full of small dark blue dots, which are there to indicate imperfectly ground cobalt pigments. This is a sign of a very old or a very recent date.
What gives it away as a copy is first the shape. The rim / top part is much too large in proportion to its lower body. It should be more like ... a pear ... really. In some small way also the lip of the rim is too thick and too rounded. It is too "safe". The genuine ones are thinner, more like the feeling of flower petals, one could say.
Then it is the decoration. The painted decorations of real Yuan pieces have a strength you could almost taste. I would not be surprised if the Mongolians had put captured highly educated Chinese scholars to do the painting on porcelain. I cannot see there are any other way to explain the sudden explosion of high quality porcelain decoration that suddenly appears. I have walked through the Hutian area outside the city of Jingdezhen where these pieces were made and looked around, and somehow I can't believe that this muddy area suddenly could produce that kind of artists out of nowhere in the 12th century.
This quality decoration continued into the early Ming. Maybe the scholars got stuck with the job since they had been "cooperating" with the Mongolians.
The decoration on this vase is very relaxed in comparison.
Then the red paper label on the side of the vase is a Chinese "antiques" shop price tag. It is very common in Chinese state controlled "relic's" shops where they don't sell anything older than 100 years, which is also what the red seal mark on the base says.
This seal I explain on my MARKS section under "20th century Chinese Porcelain Marks" section "Misc.". Red lacquer seals as this has been issued by the State Relics Bureau which have been working on the controlling of Relics leaving China, from 1949 until now.
As for a gift to a Chinese the Asian principle is "Many Thoughts and Small Gifts" so - as a general rule - don't overdo it :-)
Thank you for your interest.
Thank you so much for the info. It does not surprice me that the vase is a copy - the price was very low. The dealer that I bought it from actually lived pretty close to me, so I got to meet him - he was very knowledgeable and showed me a lot of books.
He had many pieces that had the seal and similar tags on them. He really seemed to believe that they were all genuine, although he said that he got them cheap over the years in China.
He showed me some certificate in characters that he claimed was a certification by a Chinese museum - but who knows. He would tell me how the pieces he sold on ebay were really worth a lot more than he sold them for. I kept wondering why he would continue to sell on ebay if he were getting so little - I guess I now know why.
Unfortunately, I un-wisely bid on a couple of his other items - but at least each piece was only $50US, so its not like I paid hundreds of dollars for each piece. I guess you get what you pay for?
Along the same lines - what is the best way to learn to tell copies from originals? The guy seemed very convincing, so I just took his word.
Thank you for filling me in with some more details regarding your vase. Fair copies are in that price range in China too, so you have not paid that much too much really.
As for learning to separate genuine pieces from copies, there are no shortcuts I know of - it must take its time.
Shop around in the show rooms of real antiques shops and international auction houses such at Christie's and Sotheby's. Those are the best places where you can get the feel of real pieces. They make mistakes too, as everybody else, but they are VERY few. Add some museum visits and read some books until your eyes get used to what real pieces should look like.
The bases are the best part of any piece to see what kind of handicraft has gone into the making of any piece and need to be carefully studied. There you can see what kind of tools that has been used - wooden (old), steel (recent) or molded (modern, mostly) and often how the piece was fired.
A real killer is also to know more than the copyists about how the real pieces really were made. How they were potted, painted, fired, etc. That is also why I have published so much material here on ancient porcelain making.
Even if we can't stop the copyists, we could at least make life more complicated for them :-)
Thank you for your interest.
This information is given as an example of private conversation only and is not intended to be used as a promotion of any individual piece. All opinions are the authors and are given as such with all hazards of judging anything from a photo. Copyright © Jan-Erik Nilsson, Göteborg 2000.
This information is given as an example of private conversation only and is not intended to be used as a promotion of any individual piece. All opinions are the authors and are given as such with all hazards of judging anything from a photo.
Copyright © Jan-Erik Nilsson, Göteborg 2000. www.710.com