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Subject:Please help translate long Chinese inscription on blue and white cup (#1 of 2 emails - 3 photos each)
Posted By: Steve Mon, May 02, 2016 IP: 71.202.213.11

I'm hoping an Asian Arts Forum member has the ability to translate the Chinese inscription on this blue and white cup. I'm not sure if it is a poem or not. A friend did recognize the word October so we wonder if the inscription has a date as well. Thank you SO much for your time, expertise and assistance. Warm regards and happy hunting to all!







Subject:Re: Please help translate long Chinese inscription on blue and white cup (#1 of 2 emails - 3 photos each)
Posted By: rat Tue, May 03, 2016

This is some of the text from a Su Shi poem known as "the Latter/Second Red Cliff Rhapsody/Ode to the Red Cliff". You can find the full text as item 4 here:
http://www.silkqin.com/02qnpu/10tgyy/tg38hcbf.htm#chilyr

There are various translations available online too.



Subject:Re: Please help translate long Chinese inscription on blue and white cup (#2 of 2 emails - 3 photos each)
Posted By: Steve Wed, May 04, 2016

Thank you Rat. Here are the other 3 photos that complete the inscription.







Subject:Re: Please help translate long Chinese inscription on blue and white cup (#1 of 2 emails - 3 photos each)
Posted By: Respect your elder Tue, May 03, 2016

Bring it to San Francisco Chinatown and pay an old Chinese gentleman to translate for you would be your best bet.

Subject:Re: Please help translate long Chinese inscription on blue and white cup (#1 of 2 emails - 3 photos each)
Posted By: Bill H Wed, May 04, 2016

Are you certain your cup isn't Japanese instead of Chinese? It's hard to know, since you don't show a straight-on shot of the bottom. I've seen the Tianqi (天啟 - Tenkei, in variant form 天啓) used in Japanese literal marks meaning "Heavenly Oracle", as on the base of this mini Samurai Fukusuke good luck figurine.

Bill H.



Subject:Re: Please help translate long Chinese inscription on blue and white cup (#1 of 2 emails - 3 photos each)
Posted By: Steve Thu, May 05, 2016

Hi Bill H. I think what you mean is Chinese made for the Japanese market. Definitely made in China, during the Tianqi period. My friend who owns it is a 70 year old Japanese woman and her mother gave it to her decades ago. She also had a small 14th century Longquan dish that she used as an ashtray for decades.







Subject:Re: Please help translate long Chinese inscription on blue and white cup (#1 of 2 emails - 3 photos each)
Posted By: JLim Sat, Oct 21, 2017



I own some late Ming pieces for Japanese export and...sorry, that does not look right to me. The gloss on the porcelain, the footrim, the signature...Either it is Chinese and later than Ming...or it is non-Chinese.


Kind rgds
JLim

Subject:Re: Please help translate long Chinese inscription on blue and white cup (#1 of 2 emails - 3 photos each)
Posted By: Steve Sun, Oct 22, 2017

Hi JLim. I agree with you. The more I studied it, the more I believed it to be a modern machine made piece. It was way too perfectly potted to be a Ming piece, particularly Tianqi. Thanks for the replying to this very old post. Where are you located? Are you a dealer or collector or both? All the best . . . Steve

Subject:Re: Please help translate long Chinese inscription on blue and white cup (#1 of 2 emails - 3 photos each)
Posted By: JLim Sun, Oct 22, 2017



Dear Steve

On looking further at your piece, I am more convinced that it must be Japanese.

The reign of the Emperor Tianqi (1621-7) was exceptionally fraught because of the decay of the Ming Dynasty after the dissipated habits of Wanli. It is an era that the Chinese do not traditionally esteem.

However, the reign of the last Ming emperors happens to coincide with the great explosion of Japanese interest in Chinese porcelain imports. This is why, uniquely, late Ming pieces made for Japanese taste can be dated by Emperor, since the Japanese collectors had access to precisely dated porcelains. China itself, and other export markets, did not trouble to distinguish between such mediocre Emperors.

This means, basically, that Tianqi is a name that only has prestige in Japan; not in China and not in Europe. The chances of a Japanese piece displaying an apocryphal Tianqi mark are much greater than that of any Chinese potter.

Added to this is the fact that Tianqi marks on actual Tianqi porcelain are exceptionally rare (Hobson "Chinese Pottery And Porcelain Vol 2 p 86). And added to that is the further fact that Davidson's comprehensive book on Chinese marks does not have a four character Tianqi mark at all - only a six character mark (Mark 2377). That is to say, a four character Tianqi mark is non-existent in Chinese porcelain, whether of the Ming era or later.

Besides, the calligraphy of the mark itself to me definitely looks Japanese. The way the four words are splayed out to the sides like that does not resemble Chinese practice. The nature of the calligraphy inside the foot in itself also looks Japanese to me. For instance, compare the word "nien" in the top left with the "nien" in Bill's example.

From a merely physical perspective I would expect Chinese export ware to Japan in the 1600s to have a more opaque looking, sharp foot, probably with lots of sand and grit sticking to the glaze. I would expect pops and black marks within the glaze and fritting at the rim.

I don't know enough about Japanese porcelain to be able to guess what era your cup might be from, but I do think it is Japanese.

For what it is worth, pictured below are images of a Tianqi kosometsuke dish that I recently acquired.

Kind regards
JLim





Subject:Re: Please help translate long Chinese inscription on blue and white cup (#1 of 2 emails - 3 photos each)
Posted By: JLim Sun, Oct 22, 2017


Dear Steve

Literally within five minutes of my last message I was surprised to find the below picture in a book. The object is a Tianqi dish for export to Japan, and it clearly has a four character Tianqi mark. The dish is in the Princessehof Museum in Holland. I'll be damned (and also, Davison is plain wrong). The character "nien" even looks like yours. Sort of.

The rest of my statement still holds, however, and it still looks like a Japanese cup to me.

Kind regards
JLim





Subject:Re: Please help translate long Chinese inscription on blue and white cup (#1 of 2 emails - 3 photos each)
Posted By: JLim Tue, Oct 24, 2017



Dear Steve

I am located in Australia and am not a dealer, just an enthusiast.

I believe your reply predated my further discussion; I am not saying that your cup is modern and "machine made", only that it is Japanese. In fact, although I am not very familiar with Japanese wares, there are aspects to your cup that make me suspect it is 19th century.

Attached are images of a "dragon scale" Arita ware cup that I used to have and which may date to around the turn of the 20th century. This cup I have since sold, but I still have the photos.

Note the following similarities to your cup:
- the eerie bright shade of blue is peculiar to Japan, I believe, and I nickname it "neon blue". My camera was of appalling quality, but I hope you can detect the similarities to the blue in your cup.
- second, the apochryphal Ming mark with the four words oddly spaced by Chinese standards, somewhat like in your cup.
- finally the appearance of the foot; the photo is too poor to demonstrate this, but in person the foot does look somewhat like the one on your cup.

I hope this helps

Kind regards
JLim







Subject:Re: Please help translate long Chinese inscription on blue and white cup (#1 of 2 emails - 3 photos each)
Posted By: JLim Tue, Oct 24, 2017



Dear Steve

For completeness's sake, I show below photos of the other Tianqi era dish that I own. It was once in the collection of a Swedish diplomat; this may be the only object I have that I feel I overpaid on, but it is genuine, so pfff.

Kind regards
J.Lim







Subject:Re: Please help translate long Chinese inscription on blue and white cup (#1 of 2 emails - 3 photos each)
Posted By: Steve Wed, Oct 25, 2017

Hi JLim. Nice, thanks for sharing that cute little dish. Did you receive my email of the quail pair dish?

All the best . . . Steve

Subject:Re: Please help translate long Chinese inscription on blue and white cup (#1 of 2 emails - 3 photos each)
Posted By: JLim Thu, Oct 26, 2017



Dear Steve

Er, try changing the "4" in my email address to a "3". This is purely to defeat spam; if I had a separate email address I'd probably use that haha.

Kind regards
J.Lim

Subject:Re: Please help translate long Chinese inscription on blue and white cup (#1 of 2 emails - 3 photos each)
Posted By: Steve Fri, Oct 27, 2017

Ok, JLim, I resent with a '3' thanks. I live in the San Francisco Bay Area so that is PST Zone.

All the best . . . Steve

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Subject:Re: Please help translate long Chinese inscription on blue and white cup (#1 of 2 emails - 3 photos each)
Posted By: Steve Fri, Oct 27, 2017

Hi JLim, did that work? Please advise, thanks.

All the best . . . Steve

Subject:Re: Please help translate long Chinese inscription on blue and white cup (#1 of 2 emails - 3 photos each)
Posted By: JLim Sat, Oct 28, 2017



Dear Steve

I did receive, thanks. Will take a look.

Rgds
JLim

Subject:Re: Please help translate long Chinese inscription on blue and white cup (#1 of 2 emails - 3 photos each)
Posted By: Steve Tue, Oct 24, 2017

Hi JLim,

Thanks again for your interest and diligence. Truthfully, at this point it doesn't matter to me whether it is Chinese or Japanese because, clearly, it is a late 20th c. tea cup. I will be posting a blue and white quail dish that I believe to be late Ming to Kangxi. I've always thought it to be Chinese for the Japanese market but I'm curious what all of you think of it. All the best . . . Steve


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