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Subject:Weird Japanese Porcelain Mark
Posted By: Bill H Sat, Aug 15, 2020 IP: 2601:342:200:6e70:e1

I came across this Japanese dish on eBay and am intrigued by the mark, though not the dish itself, due to damage. The characters are:


The character '翟' seems not to be in widespread use in Japan. In Chinese, the MDBG online dictionary gives it as:

'Di' "Long-tailed pheasant"

'Di' Surname

'Di' variant of 狄, generic name for northern ethnic minorities during the Qin and Han Dynasties (221 BC-220 AD)

'Zhai' Surname

Perhaps I. Nagi or another of our Japanese porcelain mavens has the resources to expand a bit on this one.


Bill H

Link :Japanese Dish

Subject:Re: Weird Japanese Porcelain Mark
Posted By: Bill H Sun, Aug 16, 2020

I'd sent a courtesy note to the eBay seller advising my concerns and intent, and they promptly pulled the listing with thanks, disrupting the link I'd included here. So I'm including a couple of pictures below FYI.

Bill H.

Subject:Re: Weird Japanese Porcelain Mark
Posted By: I.Nagy Sun, Aug 16, 2020

It should be;
大清雍正製 - Da Qing Yongzheng -zhi

雍正 Yongzheng  - reign name of Qing emperor 1722-1735

Sure 雍 and 翟 characters are similar to each other when hand written.


Subject:Re: Weird Japanese Porcelain Mark
Posted By: Bill H Sun, Aug 16, 2020

I. Nagy, your comments are much appreciated. But do you think the calligrapher simply made a mistake or would the incorrect character have been used on purpose? I haven't found anything to indicate that 雍 and 翟 are interchangeable in Chinese or Japanese.

Also, the 雍 character seems to have quite a few conventional meanings in Japanese, whereas 翟 seems only to come up in a handful in either Chinese or Japanese dictionaries, such as 墨翟 / Bokuteki, an unclassified Japanese name, which doesn't apparently compare phonetically with 雍. The two characters also turn up in a kind of Japanese ink, apparently sepia for Sumi-e use (see link below). Otherwise, there seems to be little use for this character in Japan, especially when 雍 is around to serve its original function.

Any other thoughts on this enigma?

Much obliged,

Bill H.

P.S. My apologies for misspelling your name at the outset.

Subject:Re: Weird Japanese Porcelain Mark
Posted By: I.Nagy Mon, Aug 17, 2020

Dear Bill,
It agree that the 雍 and 翟 characters are not interchangeable. Now, that I can see the clearly written marking itself, I can only add that it may have been the unpurposed mistake of the painter.
For Japanese the character 雍 yō was not much familiar in everyday use, therefore he might have confused it with the right side of the character
曜 yō - which is a very often used character in everyday life and their readings are "yō” alike.
This type of erratum can often be found in Japanese and Chinese texts.

With regards,

Subject:Re: Weird Japanese Porcelain Mark
Posted By: Bill H Mon, Aug 17, 2020

I much appreciate the confirmation. Chinese calligraphers of past centuries are well known for their mistakes (not to mention a certain contributor to this forum named Bill), but this is the only apparent example I've seen on a Japanese plate. Wonder if the guy escaped with just a retraining course. :o


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