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Re: Identify mark on blue & white Chinese porcelain dragon jar

Posted By: Bill H
Posted Date: Jan 28, 2022 (02:27 PM)

This small vase impresses me as having more going for it as being circa mid-19th century to Republic period than 18th century. Principally is that the hallmark on the base seems to be apocryphal or obscure, an unlikely eventuality in the 18th century but which can't be ruled out in the 19th and early 20th.

The mark reads down as "活然堂" (Hu ran tang), translatable as the "Hall of an Active Life", of which my google search found only a couple of examples, both seemingly used literally in the context of healthy pursuits. As such, I see the possibility of your jar being associated with medicinals, perhaps a pill or tonic container. Its essential style is Kangxi-period, however, I believe this probably reflects the Kangxi revival of the latter Guangxu reign (1875-1908) or the generally excellent porcelain artistry that continued past the end of the Qing into the early Republic.

For comparison, here's a dragon-theme lidded tea jar around 5-inches high. Whereas your jar is better finished with actual delineation of the scales, this one is the more common "crosshatch & dot" method of showing scales. The dragons are all four-clawed, to lend the impression of age.

All comments welcome.

Best regards,

Bill H.

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