Blue and white bowl with strange six character mark ??????

Started by Isaac1998, Aug 14, 2018, 00:59:42

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Firstly, I'm sorry I can't provide better pics of this item. My phone is broken and I was forced to use a laptop camera.

I found this bowl for sale in a shop in India, ostensibly brought here by a family fleeing Tibet. The mark is one I have not encountered before, it is ??????.

Could anyone tell me more about this mark and the date it was used?

I would also appreciate if anyone could offer a date on the bowl; it is definitely old and shows the appropriate signs of wear, though how old I cannot say (I would guess mid-late 19thc?).

Decoration appears to be peony blossoms, and is realised very finely in a very vivid blue.


With a mark like that, it's probably post-60s.  ?? literally means imitating the old. 


I would be very surprised if it was post 60s; while the story about it being taken from Tibet is possibly spurious, the wear and tear seems very genuine (though it is hard to show in pictures), and it has all the signs I notice in older porcelain.

Having said that, I appreciate your comment on the mark. I can find a few examples of it online but not many.

If someone has any idea of when the style might date to, that might be of more help.

If possible I'll try and get better pics, but at the moment it's not likely. I'm afraid you'll have to take my word for it that it shows convincing signs of age...


The mark ???? was used in the Kangxi reign, and then again in the Guangxu early republic period.  ?? means it is an imitation of the original. So it is most likely a later product as the decoration appears to be imitating a 19th century decoration.


Hi Peter,

Thanks. Do you mean you think this is probably a 20thc imitation of a 19thc piece?

Have you seen any instances of this particular six character mark before? I am struggling to find many.

Given the fact it is a later imitation, does anyone have an idea how this would affect value? The seller wants around 300 USD.


Don't buy it. I do not think that it is worth that much even if it is late Qing. First the story that it came from Tibet sounds fishy. I have heard all sorts of stories told, to signify that an antique item is authentic and really old. Often with a hands-on inspection they prove to be recent.
The flowers painted this way do exist, it seems, but strangely in recent months I see many of this type. I would advise to stay away.

BW porcelain not imperial or of the Qianjiang type seldom mention clearly that they are copies, even if they are old. Usually one sees only the four character mark.


Hi! I actually got a phone delivered today so I'll try and get some better pics up in a few days.

I'm really certain it is late Qing or around then; I'll post some pics of the wear and tear which seems completely genuine to my eyes. I'm going to try and haggle the seller down a little, because I do like it aesthetically. Do you have any idea what these sort of things are worth?

Well actually we're living in Ladakh, which borders Tibet. I don't know about the story, but there are hundreds of Tibetan migrants here and many of which have sold items to shopkeepers here.

He also has a famile rose Guangxu cup depicting the eight auspicious symbols, which came from the same family and is also real (but I'm not interested in buying that one, because the condition is very bad and I don't really like the pattern).

When I post some better pics maybe you can tell me if my belief about the age is right...


Sure, it is not always possible from pictures, however. There are many quality items dated Guangxu that look new, and items made a few decades later have the same (un)clear age signs. And, before all, the age signs are only part of the equation, as they often are "manufactured". Glaze, weight, usage signs, etc. are equally important.


Hi, I'll try and post high resolution pics at the weekend. In the meantime here are some more poor webcam ones. Note the hairline crack, scratches, iron rust spots and minor chipping to rim.

I really love the piece but I'm conscious of being ripped off. Do you know how much these sort of examples usually sell for?


Hi Isaac, could you post a close up of the frittings at the top edge of the bowl, on Chinese antique porcelain it is normal to see frittings like this at the top edge but most of them would have happened during the firing in the kiln, with out a closeup it is hard to tell, I have seen many fakes where they chip the top edge and then color it with a black felt pin to imitate missing glaze at the top edge, this is easy to detect, if the glaze at the top of the frits has sharp edges they were added to deceive and if the glaze is rounded at the missing edges it happened during firing, also I would like to point out in the bottom of the bowl it looks like something was added like an enamel to make it look older, it dose not look natural their is a slight discoloring in the bottom of the bowl, just an observation.


Has the character ? been used on porcelain prior to the 20th century?  Seems strange that they would use that unless significantly newer. 


$300 is a lot Issac. Even if genuine (Qing), I would say this was well beyond a reasonable price. You have to really want it at that price. The Tibet story is most suspicious in my opinion. Provenance is proof and a story is nonsense designed to deceive. That's my opinion of course but the world of Asian art is just a hotbed of deception. Indiana Jones had it easy!


Hi all, sorry it took so long to get back to you. Pics in a google link here. I've decided to probably leave it.

Pics below though (follow google link).