Late Qing/Republic Jar Signed Xu Xiangxing ????

Started by bokaba, May 31, 2017, 12:45:20

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Hi Peter and Stan,

I was wondering if you could provide any information on this jar. It looks to be late Qing/Republic to me from the orange/brown unglazed foot, firing errors, and glaze contractions. Decoration appears to be Qianjiang. The artist is Xu Xiangxing. The Gotheborg site has one of his vases dated around 1924.

Thank you,



I do not know this porcelain painter ???, but it could be that the name is just ??.  ?? could be the second and third character in the third column from right. It seems to say ??? which means that the style of a ?? (xingmao) was copied or imitated. 
Next, the second and sixth character seem to be simplified characters.
? --> ? and ?--> ?.
The right version is the traditional character, the left the simplified one. There is a small chance that a writer used these before the introduction of the simplified versions in the 1950s in China.

Now, the clothing and painting style and overall decoration are typical early republic; but the same designs were repeated by many other, later porcelain painters too. 1920s could be right, I would feel more comfortable however. if the character and black lines were a bit rubbed. I have here several items with similar decorations, and their black is fairly abraded fromuse. Black colors are easily affected by frequent handling. The decoration here looks like one that of an item that either has not been used or is newer.


Thanks for your help Peter. I do not read Chinese, so I can't speak to the Chinese characters (I speak some Japanese and know limited Kanji, but that is it). A Chinese art collector I know in China says that the artist is Xu Xian Xing who is a known artist from the early 20th Century and that the "mao" is trademark name he used. He also said that the simplified characters present on this jar have been in use in cursive script since the Ming Dynasty. so the presence of simplified characters may not rule out pre-PRC dating.


He's right to say that some simplified character's history came from grass script, but could be much earlier than Ming dynasty.  E.g. the simplified character ?, was used even by Wang Xizhi when writing in grass script.

However, I think the artwork on the piece looks a bit "generic".  Looking up Xu Xiangxing porcelain on baidu, comes up with porcelain whose human figures are quite different, especially the faces.


I know that many simplified characters were likely influenced or came from the said calligraphic style. But do not rely on it. Even if they were used earlier, you should only find the traditional version in most writing prior to the emergence of the Qianjiang style, which initiated are free creation and style (and writing that is often illegible). Otherwise a specific character style would be used, and there was no personal style in it.
That is the main reason we keep looking at the written characters. With Qianjiang and 'xincai' items it is often difficult to decide, but with traditional writing a single simplified character may be decisive in concluding whether or not it is a fake. The (mainland Chinese) fakers sometimes inadvertently write some simplified characters among the traditional ones. With that specific writing style we check if such a character is  present in a dictionary of the early Qing dynasty. If not, then the item may be fake.

But you understand what I pointed to, do you? If it says on the writing that it is a copy of that painter's style, it means it could have been made (likely) later than the activity period of that painter.
FYI, this is not Qianjiang proper, this is a 'new color' (xincai) decoration. Using imported pigments, this colors began to be introduced around 1900. The decoration uses colors that are essentially different from Qianjiang colors.
Please also note the hairstyle of the ladies - typical early republic. No matter whether it was made later or not, this is one point that helps differentiate republic from Qing dynasty items.