Song ? Cizhou Meiping

Started by kardinalisimo, May 12, 2020, 00:17:15

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I've been told that the text reads

鐵漢三杯軟腳金剛一盞搖头 , a proverb about wine, I get the meaning of it but google have funny translation for it in English:
Tiehan three cups of soft foot / King Kong shaking his head.

The question here is about the character 头 that is simplified form of 頭. According to some that is a red flag but as far as I know simplified characters has been used in calligraphy since ancient times.
Then the rest reads :
大觀三年 (the 3rd year of Daguan reign period = 1109 AD), 李十三造 (made by Li Shisan (Li # 13?)).
And 酒 "Wine".

I don't know how to read Chinese so not sure if there are other issues with the calligraphy characters?

Obviously, this could not be an Imperial piece so it would be unusual to have such an exact dating.
As to the age signs, I don't know how to tell if they are enough for the piece to be that old.
So, I'd like to hear your thoughts and opinions.


Cizhou kiln wares frequently have writing. This is a container for wine or liquor, respectively.
The translation you mention is indeed useless; but I'm not going to translate it either, because any literal translation loses the meaning of the original. I will only tell you that the first two characters mean 'iron man', that is a strong man, in Chinese...thus the text would something start like "Even a strong man gets weak after three cups..." in English, but as often with poems or verses that allude to something specific, the feeling or impression of the original meaning is lost when translating literally. 

Personally, I make a difference between abbreviated characters and simplified characters, the latter being those used by the PRC and a few other places in SE Asia. What I call abbreviated characters would be those that were used by the common  people, since a long time ago. Some simplified characters may be derived from these.  However, not sure if that character you mention is 'head'. You will note that the dots have a different position from those in 头.
Basically, we can only verify characters mentioned in the Kangxi dictionary, which has listed all the characters known in the early Qing dynasty, including alternative ones. It is probably the oldest Chinese character disctionary.

I can't believe it, a hole in the bottom means someone wants or wanted to use this for a lamp?!  This is an excavated item, and it is clearly visible.


It was turned into a lamp. The only benefit of the whole is that we can see that the color of the paste is gray. And maybe help for a TL test.
If you google the proverb  you can find some pages mentioning the phrase with both variations of the "head" character. So, it's seems that it a known saying but I can't find anything on its origin.

I keep searching but I cannot find known examples of Song pieces with carved calligraphy. I know that Cizhou ware ( if that what this is) was not made for the court but it find it a bit unusual for folk item to have an exact date of production and name of the artist. So, if authentic, can we call it a rare piece or that would be nothing special?

Any advice how to proceed with authentication of the piece? Should I seek a professional expertise?


Average, not rare but not plenty either. However, there are plenty of fakes(!)
I would not do a TL test, it is not worth the expense, especially if an item is in this condition. The signs of an excavated item are quite clear. There is ingrained soil and other age signs pointing to this. Genuine Cizhou items are not really difficult to get, but collectors in the west are less interested in such items, usually.

Cizhou has had a great influence on porcelain in Korea, Japan and SE Asia. And it is an old kiln. So it is possible to see similar items outside of China. Actually, items in this style could also be from a few other kilns in China, meaning kilns which are part of the Cizhou kiln system, but not made by the main kiln. Such items are usually attributed to the Cizhou kiln system. Writing can be found on some Song items, especially porcelain pillows and some liquor containers, but this is not marking or dating usually, just part of the decoration. Real marking did not take off until the Ming dynasty.


Thanks again for your input.
I'm OK with the condition but I guess most collectors don't like holes on the bottom.
I tried to search online for the maker Li Shisan but came empty. I guess he was just one of the many potters of his time and will be impossible to find information about him.
The writings that you've seen on Song pieces, were they painted or carved?


First I would like to mention that it could be Jin (金) or Song, probably, it would be difficult to tell which.
As to your question, I have seen both painted and carved writing.


I thought the writing says Daguan which is an era in Song?


Right! My mistake, I completely forgot about that. Would be 1110, before the court moved south.