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Provincial bowl

Ming style bowl We have been searching for pieces similar to those my husband was given in the early 1970s. An Englishman was travelling from the Far East back home and claimed to have brought these out of China. The pieces were exchanged for a few bottles of wine!

We love them, no matter the value and we are very curious as to their history. To date, we have been unable to find anyone who seemed to have a reliable knowledge of these items. If only we knew the stories of the many hands, that has held these pieces!

For the first time in our search, we found a plate of a similar style shown on your website. You identified that plate as a Mid 19th Century Provincial, though our mark is different. I am attaching that mark. We have a small bowl, which matches this plate.

We would appreciate any assistance you can give us on these items.

Same decoration but different date

On another page I have shown a late Qing dynasty example of this very long lived pattern, which from the beginning seems to have been borrowed from the book end papers of a compilation of Buddhist chants published in 1419.

The top two pictures shown here, which I believe seems to be of the same object, is a good quality piece that seems to be from the end of the 19th century. I gather this mostly from the carefully painted spiral in the middle of the topside. The glazed bottom, the style of the mark and the look of the wide, foot rim could merit an older date - maybe even late Ming - but I believe we should be careful with assuming that provincial ware are "Ming" just because they are "provincial".

The bowl, though, seems to me to be slightly earlier and my personal guess so far is that it actually could be a late Ming (16th century) version of the same pattern.

This I deduce from the high and sturdy foot rim, the fact that the interior is partially unglazed and, the slightly more artistically painted decoration.

To my experience Min yao (peoples ware) decorations are pretty "loose" by the mid - to late Ming to "stiffens up" and get more perfunctory up until the 19th century ... for what this observation could be worth :-)

Jan-Erik Nilsson

The following interesting comment have been provided by Mr. Wai-Choong Lye

If I may contribute to one of your reader's question regarding blue and white provincial Chinese porcelain.

As you had rightly pointed out, the motif for this min yao porcelain stretches from the Ming to the Ching to the Republican eras. It can be difficult to differentiate the period of the piece but generally the Ming pieces are coarser, with a rough foot trim.

Many of these blue and white pieces are also found in the South-east Asian region and one can still get some of these pieces in Malacca, Singapore, Thailand and Indonesia. A lot of these pieces were obviously exported to South-East Asia.

The later Ching pieces with the same motifs are also found in the South-East Asian region. My grandmother had quite many pieces and they were only used for ancestral worship, these were previously referred to as the 'nonya blue and white porcelain', a misnomer, because they are not "Straits Chinese porcelain" but merely Chinese export porcelain.

A good section on this type of blue and white porcelain is described in the book "Nonya ware and Kitchen Ch'ing" by Lee Suan Poh and William Willetts.

Finally the motifs on the bowl are stylised ling-zhi, the fungus of immortality in Chinese mythology.