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Subject:Japanese Bowl with Hidden decoration
Posted By: Anni Macdonald-Penney Fri, May 01, 2020 IP:

I have 2 porcelain bowls each with hidden decoration of a dragon chasing a hoho bird with 2 Chinese characters under the glaze. The decoration is in cobalt blue with flames in red. The coloured decoration is only visible by holding the bowl up to a strong light.

Both bowls are of a straight-sided conical shape with a straight-sided foot ring and a narrow (10mm) flat lip. They are about 12cm high and 12cm wide. Both bowls have an unglazed foot edge with no pink staining at the edge of the glaze.

Both bowls have a very white, slightly waxy body material that is covered with a very white, opaque glaze. On both bowls, the glaze has the soft reflection and "effervescence" of Japanese glaze. Neither bowl has the glassiness of Chinese glaze.

Both bowls appear to have been press-moulded and have warped slightly in the firing.

One bowl has moulded butterflies to the outside. It has a heavily scratched internal base. There are no marks on this bowl. This bowl is slightly better made.

The other bowl has a moulded dragon and hoho bird to the outside. There is a moulded Chinese character under the base.

Can anyone explain them?
Where were they manufactured?
The first bowl I purchased was supposed to have come from China - Why would the Chinese have a Japanese bowl?
Are they Meiji period or later?

Any information is welcomed. Thank you in advance.

Subject:Re: Japanese Bowl with Hidden decoration
Posted By: Bill H Sat, May 02, 2020

Your bowl shown with the mark is a contemporary Chinese product, with a molded character for 'Official' (Guan - 官) on the base. See the link for a forum discussion of a similar piece last year, including another link to information on these wares from If the bowl with butterflies has similar decoration, called 'Anhuar' (暗花兒 - Chinese term for hidden motifs in porcelain, also 'anhua'), it probably is Chinese as well.

Best regards,

Bill H.

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