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Dated vase with bird, 1909

Dated vase with bird, 1909

Many porcelain pieces made from the closing decades of the 20th century well into the 20th century had poems and inscriptions as part of their decoration.

Many of these inscriptions also have a date and bear the name or signature of the porcelain painter.

The scolarship, thoughts and humor that went into these modest pieces are sometimes amazing. Here is one of these pieces, dated to 1909. For the translation I am heavily indebted to "Tony" at the gotheborg discussion list and my long time friend, Simon Ng, Hong Kong".

To first look into the over all meaning of the six lines of the text of the verse, it would read something like this:

Now translations from the Chinese is never easy and what we need is rather an interpretation than just the words. Taken character by character we have the following:

Character Pinyin Meaning Comment
1. Ji Xiang "Fortune and Peace", Lucky, Auspicious Good wish implying high rank
2. Ti rooster-sings, crow Bird's song
3. kai open bursting out
4. yi (er) one
5. shu tree
6. fa (hua) flower makes the trees blossom.
7. Ji (date)
8. You (date) = 1909
9. xia Summer Ji You summer months
10. yue Month "In the summer of 1909"
11. shu Drawn
12. yu at
13. Jiang (name) Probably the Jiang River of Nanchang
14. you Right (the most "important", side, but also the "traditional", side) "Drawn at the right hand side of the River".
15. Jiang (surname)
16. Yong (name)
17. Sheng (name)
18. zuo "Made by"

This gives an interesting picture of the porcelain industry of the early 20th century. Still to ponder is why would anyone want to refer to the "right" side of the river, and which river are we talking about. According to the dictionary "Jiang" basically just means "river" as in any river but also specifically the Changjiang (Yangtze river) that actually runs just north of Nanchang, is the largest river of southern China and via the Poyang lake is connected to the river that runs clear through Jingdezhen. So, seemingly giving a lot of information in many ways also leaves just as many questions not answered.