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A fake "Ming" bowl

At first, I was not sure if this bowl really originally was intended as a fake. Now, after seeing more of this kind of pieces, all with an unmistakably intent to deceive, I feel certain this piece is a part of a huge group with should hold some common characteristics we in time will be able to recognize.

The most obvious so far, seems to be the strange and special look of the glaze inside the foot rim.

It has also been suggested that the Philippines is the origin of these wares. I have no way of knowing this, the only thing being certain, is that this one was acquired on Java.

When I first saw this bowl it was the strange border on the top rim that first struck me as strange. It did not seem to fit with the other, rather convincing, decoration.

The shape as such also felt strange but then again, there are so many pieces out there nobody could be sure, you could never learn anything new. I mean, it could be real and it was just me that had never seen one of these before.

After being able to study this piece in some details (it's now on my desk) I have come to the conclusion my first impression was right. This is a fake.

Besides the strange top rim border and the shape, the walls are very thick, much stronger than really necessary for a bowl of this size. The base border is also uncertainly painted with signs of being badly planned.

Inside and out this bowl has been sanded and after that it has been polished. This probably to remove the modern kiln gloss and to add "wear" and softness to the glaze. Some kind of polishing paste has been used for this.

I have by now also seen several other pieces from probably the same fake factory, and if carefully studied with a 10 x loupe traces of the polishing paste could be seen on some pieces with pinholes in the glaze, as a white ring around the edges of the pinholes. By the way, this is the first use I have found for a loupe in authenticating Chinese porcelain.

The decoration was at first on the whole pretty convincing. It looked like a mixture of late Ming and Annamese blue and white which makes one uncertain which it is supposed to look like, which was probably the purpose. Or - they just mixed up their manuals.

As a last but interesting observation; under the glaze, on the entire body of this piece there are visibly tracks from a shaping tool which was used to pare down the paste to the final shape.

These tracks looks like the tracks on old vinyl gramophone records, but wider. The evenness of these are the result of the piece being shaped on an electrically powered potters wheel which turns at the same speed all the time.

The antique potter's wheel were manually powered by the potter and rotated in different speeds, which together with many other things gave the antique pieces a life and a personality, which is the only reason we collect them, and not fakes.

This bowl now belongs to the reference collection and is not for sale.

I'm open to all offers above $20, though.

Jan-Erik Nilsson