scientific testing of chinese porcelain

Started by sianmf, Dec 02, 2018, 17:52:50

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Dear all, 
I have been given this laser Mass Spectography glaze analysis for a purported Southern Song dynasty vase. Does anyone know  who I should speak to in order to interpret the result before buying this piece? it is quite expensive. I have only one photo of the piece itself, but may be able to obtain others.
Best regards,


What a coincidence, I am working on doing the same, also for the same era.

They provided you with an analysis, but did they not give another sheet? 
Did they promise to do a full test to decide the kiln or era, or check authenticity, or did they only agree to do the analysis? For the analysis itself just any organization with the equipment would do.
Judging by the item you would want to know if it is from Laohudong or Longquan kiln of that period. If they were paid to verify authenticity, age or the kiln, then they should have made a comparison of analysis to the data of the concerned kiln(s) at the very least, I would assume.
On the other hand, if they were only requested to do the analysis itself, then this is it.

We will probably only have an analysis done only, as it is more difficult to find someone here with the database required, allowing proper identification. It should be possible to get the kiln data from the archaeological excavation report(s), allowing us to do the comparison without database.

Was the analysis expensive?


If you are considering buying this item based on this analysis, I would be careful. Even if genuine it is just a statement of ceramic content no more. This alone is not sufficient to prove age, authenticity or age, except to someone who already has the concerned data.


Thank you Peter, this was arranged by the previous chinese australian owner, I believe it may have cost $500 or so. I think it is not possible/advisable to perform thermoluminescence on the body where it is surrounded by glaze, due to possible damage, hence the glaze examination.

I am hesitant to buy as I think this is an evolving area - I am not sure an adequate database of shards from Guan kilns exists yet for comparison, which may be why they did not provide more information.



500 is a bit stiff for an analysis without identification, I think, especially in China.
I assume that LA-ICP-MS was used? See this page for a PDF file related to this. I put that up some eight years ago. This seems to be reliable.
(Scroll down for the link to the PDF of Bartle's work.)
You will also see that this was made in Australia. So, it is odd that this should have been done in China, where the method supposedly came into use later.
There are now other non-destructive methods also using spectroanalysis, employing X-rays, but these may not be always reliable, judging by some reports on the Internet.

I only know that this method apparently is already used in many places in China.
Whether the analysis data of the excavated kiln shards are generally available to the public I do not know. But, I have seen published research publications from Jingdezhen, for example, where elemental contents are listed. Maybe it depends on the museum or university doing the excavation...

The analysis of the clay would be more important, I believe, because the clay is mined locally. But with the LA-ICP-MS method it should be possible to analyze both, the clay and glaze.
You are aware that if the item is in China now, as the date of the analysis suggests, and the item is authentic, you would be unable to get it out. The export of such antiques is strictly forbidden and they may confiscate it if it is sent out.


I wouldn't buy it. the test report above is dated 2017-12-28 and below 2017-11-28.


Thank you Peter and Rec, very observant.
The piece is now in Australia and I wonder how it made it out - presume stated is is a copy, even if genuine.
Best not to buy at the high (though discounted!) price asked.
Thanks again