Help with Chinese item? What is it?

PHOTOS REQUIRED - marks + item
AGHEAD
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Help with Chinese item? What is it?

Postby AGHEAD » Wed May 16, 2012 4:25 pm

I have this item, not sure what it is or who made it. It is silver maybe Chinese? Any help would be great. Thanks.

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rauls
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Re: Help with Chinese item? What is it?

Postby rauls » Wed May 23, 2012 11:34 am

To me, it's more like Japanese silver than Chinese one.

davidross
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Re: Help with Chinese item? What is it?

Postby davidross » Wed May 23, 2012 1:47 pm

I think this may be an altar box, perhaps designed to hold long sticks of incense. From the photos, the box appears to be complete and made without a lid. A lid would have been unnecessary on an incense box, as sticks would have been frequently taken out and burned as offerings to ancestors or deities.

Dragons are a common motif on Chinese altar boxes and reliquaries as early as the Song Dynasty, though this observation is not conclusive regarding the origin or function of this box.

The hallmarks do not look Japanese to me, especially the lack of a jungin mark on a piece with some age. If it is not Chinese (as Rauls says), could it be Straits silver or perhaps made by for export to Tibet or a SE Asian Chinese Buddhist community?

Regards
David

AGHEAD
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Re: Help with Chinese item? What is it?

Postby AGHEAD » Thu May 24, 2012 11:41 am

Okay, thanks for your ideas. The style of the pattern and markings sure look Chinese rather than Japanese to me. The idea of on incense burning box seems plausible. I thought it was an item from the 40s or 50s to be sold to tourists (stamped silver) but maybe not.

rauls
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Re: Help with Chinese item? What is it?

Postby rauls » Thu May 24, 2012 12:37 pm

Many JES (japanese export silver) used SILVER or STERLING 950 marks instead of "純銀"(Jungin). Some characteristics on the dragon make me feel this piece was made by a Japanese silversmith. The horns, the hair on the head etc are more like Japanese style. Especially the three-nail claws, they are rarely to see on Chinese silver items (in China most are a four-nail claws, maybe in the middle of 18c and earlier 3-nail have been used, but SILVER mark has never been seen on any item of that period). However, three-nail claws are usual for the dragons on Japanese Silver.

AGHEAD
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Re: Help with Chinese item? What is it?

Postby AGHEAD » Thu May 24, 2012 2:51 pm

Thanks for the info, I appreciate your ideas. The picture below is from the same collection. The dragon looks very similar and the item has the shanghai inscription, I assumed the piece below was from China. Different maker marks but a very similar silver mark, I thought the maker mark was written in Chinese. Thanks again for your help.

Image

dragonflywink
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Re: Help with Chinese item? What is it?

Postby dragonflywink » Fri May 25, 2012 9:23 am

Believe two of the obscured marks say "NANKING" - have seen it before, on similarly decorated early-mid 20th century Chinese Export silver.

~Cheryl

davidross
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Re: Help with Chinese item? What is it?

Postby davidross » Fri May 25, 2012 10:45 am

Thanks to Cheryl's suggestion of Nanking for the second mark, it now seems quite clear and I am also reminded of items similarly marked "Peking" and "Hong Kong" that date from the 1930s-40s.

I agree with Rauls' analysis of the three- versus four- and five-claw dragon motifs in Japanese and Chinese decorative arts respectively as a general rule prior to the demise of the Qing Dynasty.

Even without conducting an exhaustive survey of Japanese and Chinese representations of dragons in the first half of the 20th century, however, it seems reasonable to conclude that artists did not hew to this rule in the tumultuous decades of the Chinese Republic and Japan's increasing military involvement in China (roughly, 1920s-1940s).

Regards
David

rauls
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Re: Help with Chinese item? What is it?

Postby rauls » Fri May 25, 2012 12:58 pm

I couldn't see the 2nd mark very clearly. But FYI, Nanking Store (earlier 20c, until 1930s) is a Shanghai based jewelry store, used marks "NK" or "NANKING" or "NANKING STORE". In my memory, it located in Hongkou district, which was the Japan occupied area in Shanghai. So davidross' idea is a possible answer for the question "why the dragon isn't in a typical Chinese style".

davidross
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Re: Help with Chinese item? What is it?

Postby davidross » Fri May 25, 2012 1:38 pm

Great insight from Rauls. This item made in Shanghai might have been engraved with the three-claw dragon to reflect the political climate of the Japanese occupation. WIthout documentation, this is pure speculation of course, but nevertheless a fascinating line of inquiry.

aazul3
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Re: Help with Chinese item? What is it?

Postby aazul3 » Sun Nov 24, 2013 9:42 am

Just thought I'd add my 2 cents - there is a myth about Asian dragons and the number of claws they show. In Asia, dragons are believed to have originated from China (5 claws) and lost a claw as they moved away from the mainland as punishment. Thus, Korean dragons more often than not, show 4 claws, whilst the Japanese only have 3.

Adam

davidross
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Re: Help with Chinese item? What is it?

Postby davidross » Sun Nov 24, 2013 2:29 pm

There is a more detailed discussion about counting dragon claws at this topic:

viewtopic.php?f=13&t=34432

The only hard-and-fast rule seems to be that there is no hard-and-fast rule.

Regards
DR

supershrink
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Re: Help with Chinese item? What is it?

Postby supershrink » Wed Aug 20, 2014 12:46 pm

Hi This is a CES jardinere or planter would have had two sets crossed bamboo legs
now missing
look for bit of solder where legs would have attached
1900 - 1940
We have owned several of these
some also came with a frog or pierced metal mesh liner to hold stems upright
regards
Dr R Barresi
supershrink

davidross
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Re: Help with Chinese item? What is it?

Postby davidross » Wed Aug 20, 2014 9:06 pm

Reading back through this post, I see that the dimensions of the object were never provided. My monitor no longer displays the images originally posted, but perhaps this is a temporary problem.

R. Barresi, could you post the dimensions and images of one of these jardinieres? This has been such a well-viewed post, I'm sure I'm not the only one would appreciate seeing it.

Thanks in advance,

David R

AGHEAD
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Re: Help with Chinese item? What is it?

Postby AGHEAD » Wed Aug 20, 2014 9:47 pm

I no longer have the item in my position but it is about 12" long, by 2.5" wide, by about 2" tall. Definitely never had legs or anything as such. Pure and clean bottom. It was designed to burn incense in a substrate. My father in law knew what it was right when he saw it.


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