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Subject:Blue and White Lidded Jar. Another Fake?
Posted By: Peter Sat, Jan 04, 2020 IP:

Hello again, experts and beginners alike.

I've got the chance to purchase a Chinese lidded jar which is supposedly (!) 200 years old, but probably more likely to be nearer 20 years old. The dodgy black 'gunge' on the underside of the cover doesn't give much cause for optimism.
However, after first dismissing it as a copy, I have since decided that it would be prudent to ask the opinion of the experts in the forum. Any opinions would be very gratefully received!


Subject:Re: Blue and White Lidded Jar. Another Fake?
Posted By: Bill H Sat, Jan 04, 2020

Your jar has a hand-painted pattern called the "sweetpea scroll", a design found on many Chinese porcelains made in the 19th century for domestic use as well as export to "Peranakan" (Malacca Straits Chinese) and other markets in Southeast Asia. From the look of it, your jar is an early one, but I'm not sure what all that black stuff is underneath the edge of the cover (presuming that is what's showing in the middle picture). Maybe the jar's biscuit has been intentionally inked?

For comparison, please see three photos attached herewith. These 19th century jars are called "kamcheng" in Straits Chinese communities. I have three of them, which were collected in Burma during the early 1980's. The bottom of the rims on mine are stained, but a lighter brown color from cooking with soy sauce.

You're wise to be concerned about fakes, because there are many on the market in transfer-printed versions of this pattern. Use the forum search feature to query "sweetpea" or "kamcheng" and you can see examples of the modern transfer decorated jars.

Best regards,

Bill H.

Subject:Re: Blue and White Lidded Jar. Another Fake?
Posted By: Bill H Sun, Jan 05, 2020

I must issue a correction regarding the source of stains on the kamcheng's unglazed biscuit around the upper rim and adjacent lid. I sourced them to "cooking with soy sauce". Actually, according to the book "Straits Chinese Porcelain - A Collector's Guide" by Ho Wing Meng, the Straits Chinese "Nonyas" use these jars for storage of staples such as salt and sugar, but some also treat them like soup tureens. The latter obviously could contribute to staining, but apparently open fire cooking would not be much of an issue.

Bill H.

Subject:Re: Blue and White Lidded Jar. Another Fake?
Posted By: Peter Mon, Jan 06, 2020

Hello Bill,
Thanks for taking the time and trouble to give such an informative and interesting reply. It's good to learn that the item is not a copy.
As regards the black 'gunge' - my own guess, as an amateur - is that this was perhaps done to give the jar a more effective seal when storing moisture-sensitive contents (sugar/salt?).
Incidentally, I've just noticed that all your three jars have lids which are level with the jar body, whilst the lid on 'my' jar has an overhang. However, I don't think this is an issue.

Once again, thank you for your much appreciated help.

Best Regards,

Subject:Re: Blue and White Lidded Jar. Another Fake?
Posted By: Bill H Tue, Jan 07, 2020

The pictures only show one of my kamcheng jars, the smaller of the three, which has a cover with much less overhang than the other two. I'm uncertain whether it is a case of marriage or just the way the particular factory made the piece.

Bill H.

Subject:Re: Blue and White Lidded Jar. Another Fake?
Posted By: Peter Tue, Jan 07, 2020

Thank you once again, Bill.


Subject:Re: Blue and White Lidded Jar. Another Fake?
Posted By: mikeoz Sun, Jan 05, 2020

"dismissing it as a copy". Why dismiss it. It is a copy - a copy of an everyday storage pot, just like the hundreds if not thousands that were made at the same time in the same factories. It is not a fake, any more than a plastic lidded pot you might buy at Kmart is a 'fake'.

Not all Chinese pottery was Imperial quality. Actually very, very little. On the other hand, the millions of people who lived in China needed pots to store their food, jugs or ewers to hold their wine, and bowls to eat or drink from.

Consider this: some of the Ming and Qing dynasty ships that were wrecked on the coasts of South East Asia carrying trade freight for the European and middle eastern markets, were carrying up to 250,000 individual goods. Those goods were not 'fakes' they were workaday products to be used by ordinary people, not in some exalted palace.

I would be proud to be the owner of this pot. It represents a high degree of culture, of design and of practicality. Not something to be sneered at as a fake.

A fake is something created with the intention to deceive. This is many, many miles from that. | Associations | Articles | Exhibitions | Galleries |