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Subject:Rose Medallion Plate with Mythical Beast
Posted By: Bokaba Thu, Jul 06, 2017 IP: 2605:e000:af16:3b00:

I recently purchased this rose medallion style plate because I found the mythical beast (perhaps a Pixiu) and Chinese-type design unusual for this type of decoration.

Is this a 19th Century piece or later?

Thank you,


Subject:Re: Rose Medallion Plate with Mythical Beast
Posted By: Bill H Sat, Jul 08, 2017

This pattern has been raising unanswered questions for as long as I've been aware of it. The pixiu tends to get labeled as a kind of Chimera, whereas this red creature with the bifurcated tail resembles a Buddhistic lion or fu dog that got caught in a thresher. Since many legendary creatures in Korea and Japan have roots in Chinese lore, I found the following old and not so politically correct passage from a century-old book possibly relevant to this mystery, but will depend on you to investigate the possibilities.

P. 52

"Dogs are not held in any honor in Japan, as they were anciently in Kokorai. Except the silk-haired, pug-nosed, and large-­eyed chin, which the average native does not conceive as canine, the dogs run at large, ownerless, as in the Levant; and share the work of street scavenging with the venerated crows. Yet there are two places of honor in which the golden and stone effigies of this animal-highly idealized indeed, but still inu-are enthroned.

The ama-inu, or heavenly dogs, in fanciful sculpture of stone or gilt wood, represent guardian dogs. They are found in pairs guarding the entrances to miya or temples. As all miya (the name also of the mikado's residence) were originally intended to serve as a model or copy of the pa1ace of the mikado and a reminder of the divinity of his person and throne, it is possible that the ama-inu imitated the golden Corean dogs which support and guard the throne of Japan. Access to the shrine was had only by passing these two heavenly dogs. These creatures are quite distinct from the "dogs of Fo", or the "lions" that flank the gateways of the magistrate's office in China. Those who have had audience of the mikado in the imperial throne-room, as the writer had in January, 1873, have noticed at the foot of the throne, serving as legs or supports to the golden chair, on which His Majesty sits, two dogs sitting on their haunches, and upright on their forelegs. These fearful-looking creatures, with wide-open mouths, hair curled in tufts, especially around the front neck, and with tails bifurcated at their upright ends, are called "Corean dogs." For what reason placed there we know not. It may be in witness of the conquest of Shima by the empress Jingu, who called the king of Shinra "the dog of Japan," or it may point to some forgotten symbolism in the past, or typify the vassalage of Corea – so long a fundamental dogma in Japanese politics. It is certainly strange to see this creature, so highly honored in Fuyu and dishonored among the vulgar in Japan, placed beneath the mikado's throne."

FROM: Corea, the Hermit Nation, William Elliot Griffis, New York, Charles Scribner's Sons, 1907

Best regards,

Bill H.

Subject:Re: Rose Medallion Plate with Mythical Beast
Posted By: Bokaba Sat, Jul 08, 2017

Thanks Bill. The double-tailed beast was puzzling to me as well. I will invest some time in looking at images of legendary beasts. Do you think my dating of second half of the 19th Century is correct?


Subject:Re: Rose Medallion Plate with Mythical Beast
Posted By: Bill H Sun, Jul 09, 2017

The bottom of your plate looks a bit suspicious, like it might have been re-glazed, which would be a clue that it could have been decorated and refired at one of the ornamentation factories in Hong Kong or Macao. Here's a link to a Hong Kong-decorated version of this pattern currently on eBay for comparison. The eBay plate has real coins glued to the rim in a tacky flourish, but I believe I have seen versions of this pattern closer to yours that also were produced at the Hong Kong or Macao factories.

Best regards,

Bill H.

Subject:Re: Rose Medallion Plate with Mythical Beast
Posted By: Bokaba Mon, Jul 10, 2017

Hi Bill,

Thank you for posting the link to the HK piece on eBay. I posted some additional viewpoints/angles of the foot rim for you.

From my quick search on eBay and Live Auctioneers, I found that all of the HK decorated pieces have artwork of very poor quality and appear to use chemical pigments (from what I understand modern chemical pigments produce more even coloration and are easier to control when firing).

The HK pieces seem to follow the same pattern as my plate, a double tailed lion of some sort with a bat, bird, and pine tree in the center roundel and a border of shou coins and floral vignettes.

Here are some more HK examples:

I believe my plate is painted with the older mineral pigments that were in use up until the Guangxu reign and possibly into the Republic. I cannot say with certainty that my plate is older than mid-20th Century.

I did find one grouping of similar plates that appear to be late 19th Century (and they follow the same pattern as the HK plates, but appear to have much more sophisticated decoration and a more fluid, softer artistic composition):

By re-glazing, do you mean that old plates were taken, re-decorated, and then re-fired?


Subject:Re: Rose Medallion Plate with Mythical Beast
Posted By: Bokaba Fri, Jul 14, 2017

Bill, could you explain the re-glazing process you mentioned?

Thank you


Subject:Re: Rose Medallion Plate with Mythical Beast
Posted By: Bill H Sat, Jul 15, 2017

As far as I know, Chinese porcelain ornamentation factories primarily work nowadays with pre-glazed blanks from Jingdezhen. The Hong Kong and Macao Factories have used pre-glazed Japanese Blanks in the past. Additional coats of glaze will be required for such blanks if they are to be decorated in underglaze blue or if the factory is firing colored pigments that require additional glaze to vitrify properly in the local kiln. Reglazing also may be required to ensure the successful firing of patterns laid down in some cases using rubber stamps instead of printed transfers.

I see evidence of reglazing fairly often within the foot rim, where the glaze tends to get splashed up to the biscuit or otherwise leaves traces of the original glaze visible. The foot seems to get reglazed in many cases, I think, to accommodate a fake reign mark.

Here's the link to the Hong Kong Overjoy Porcelain Factory page at so you can put it in context.

Best regards,

Bill H.

URL Title :Overjoy Porcelain Factory

Subject:Re: Rose Medallion Plate with Mythical Beast
Posted By: Bokaba Mon, Jul 17, 2017

Thank you for your information Bill. As to my plate specifically, what is it that makes you think mid-20th Century or later? I have shown this to a few others I consider experts who all say my plate's foot rim and enameling is perfect for later Guangxu period. I at first thought that you meant they were taking real old plates and re-decorating them at this factory. They say that it would be a lot of work to replicate the exact form of a 19th Century plate and use the same materials to decorate to make a cheap fake. Too bad Tony Allen isn't around on this forum anymore.

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