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Red bowl with Qianlong mark

I have recently acquired a very beautiful porcelain bowl decorated in various shades of red depicting two phoenix among clouds. I have been actively searching for several weeks to find a similar example for comparison and to determine the approximate age of the piece.

Unfortunately, I have not been successful in my quest for information. I was hoping that I might be fortunate enough to receive your opinion on this bowl.

The measurements are as follows: 14cm diameter, 5.2cm height, 6cm (diameter of foot ring). The hand painted mark appears to be a Qianlong example.

The overall quality of the bowl and its painting is excellent. I am very pleased with the piece and paid a meager sum for it.

So despite the authenticity issues I am satisfied either way. If you would, please view my photographs and share your opinion, I would greatly appreciate it.

Thank you so much in advance for any assistance that you may provide. I look forward to hearing from you.

Good quality modern replica

Unfortunately this looks to me like a typical example of the good quality replicas that are made today. If you study the mark - stroke by stroke - and compare it to a genuine style example published on my MARKS section, you will notice some differences which might seem small, but due to the circumstances in Imperial China - were of great importance. I have simgled out the "long" character in the "Da Qing Qianlong Nian Zhi" mark which instantly gives the age of the piece away.

I would still invite my readers to comment on this bowl if you feel I am wrong in this.

Jan-Erik Nilsson


- Your question seems like an easy one to give an answer to, but it really takes a well thought out assessment of the minds of the Chinese porcelain potters over the centuries to try to say if this piece was an intended fake. I would say, it is not.

On the other hand, the mark is not an obvious fake to anyone who just reads and write Chinese. It is really good and the overall potting and decoration of the bowl is quite nice if somewhat stiff. This was on the other hand very much the style of the 18th-19th century Imperial pieces, so it is not that conclusive.

I would say it takes a keen eye to notice the differences in enamels, shapes, quality of glaze and paste - and mark - to see the difference between a good recent replica and, lets say an early 20th century piece.

The difference in this case is more, I would say in the old potters relation to the Emperor.

If someone one hundred years ago would have tried to deliver something with a mark written like this to the Emperor, he would probably have been boiled, or something. Even a faker, would not have tried to write a "Long" character like that.

Truly genuine pieces are still not that rare or terribly expensive. The "replica sellers" efforts have had the effect that collectors are very reluctant to pay "real" prices for genuine pieces. At least at Internet auctions.

The problem is only to spot the genuine ones, which I believe, still could be done.

The easiest way is really to buy from a serious dealer and let him do the worrying for you. All links out from this web site, goes to reputably sources. Kindly feel free to try them out.

Jan-Erik Nilsson