JIUJIANG PORCELAIN COMPANIES IN THE CHINESE REPUBLIC ERA 九江瓷民国
This report is a significant update to a previous report on this city’s C20th porcelains. With hundreds more examples it really defines how much information can be gained from a study of the base marks, inscriptions and decorative patterns of these wares.
Jiujiang is the second largest prefecture level city in Jiangxi Province after Nanchang and is located about 125km northwest of Jingdezhen, on the northwestern edge of the large Lake Poyang. Jingdezhen lies to the east of the lake, which thus provided an excellent transport link across to Jiujiang (See map below). Jiujiang, Jingdezhen and Nanchang form the three main manufacturing centres for Republic period porcelain, with Shanghai also important. Jiujiang was directly connected to Guangzhou, Canton, via the Gan River so was a natural trading point, a lucrative customs port during the Qing Dynasty, and became a treaty port after 1861 when British troops overcame the Qing. Jiujiang thus became a wealthy and important city as a result of taxes from the huge international export trade in porcelains from Jingdezhen.
I wish I could discover more published information about the porcelain industry in Jiujiang during the Republic era, details about any manufacturing kilns, painting workshops or studios, but a few images of porcelain shops and businesses have emerged and I have now collected a many examples of porcelains which bear a ‘Jiujiang’ base mark or have some pertinence to Jiujiang. By 1926 there were more than 20 porcelain shops in Jiujiang (http://www.xlrww.cn/news/wh/xztbao/2009/19/15/831/), and just after the war with Japan (1945) some 80 shops had reappeared. It is considered that the ‘heyday’ for Jiujiang porcelain was in these first few years after the war but quite quickly economic circumstances deteriorated and by 1948, 30 of the porcelain shops had closed. I am aware that there is information on the porcelain industry in Jiujiang in Chinese texts, and it would seem that an awareness of these Jiujiang companies (and unfortunately some fakes are recently appearing) is emerging within China, but there is still little factual data. However, there are some Chinese enthusiasts who have specialist ‘Jiujiang’ collections.
The porcelains themselves, therefore, will have to do the ‘talking’ (like so many Republic period porcelains). By this I mean that by compiling images of the patterns, shapes, marks and inscriptions of Jiujiang porcelains one can build up a list of porcelain companies, artists and decorations particular to the city of Jiujiang. It can fairly reliably be said that a Jiujiang base mark dates the porcelain to the Republic or earliest People’s Republic periods, unless a fake.
The porcelain industry throughout the Republic era was interrupted throughout Jiangxi by the war with Japan, 1937 – 1945. Therefore, although many companies closed up shop during this period, there is possibly a difference in the earlier works as opposed to those produced after the end of the war. Sometimes the name of the company changed slightly but was run by the same people or by their relatives or proteges. Certainly, base marks reflect these changes by substituting the Chinese characters, particularly the endings or suffixes (‘Gongsi’ vs ‘Chu Pin’ vs ‘Ci Zhuang’ etc). And the predominant patterns may have changed as well. Without detailed information on these changes from archival material, it should still be possible to just look at the porcelains themselves and make some pertinent observations. I think it will become apparent that very little porcelain was produced 1937-1945, thus dividing the story of Jiujiang porcelain in the Republic era into two.
I have discovered a photograph of the shopfront of the Jiangxi Porcelain Company in Jiujiang in 1930 with the characters Jiangxi Ciye Gongsi written right to left across the top:
Binjiang Road Porcelain Shops, Jiujiang, 1930 (from www.jiujiang.gov.cn)
West Street Shops, Jiujiang, 1946 (from www.jiujiang.gov.cn)
Below you will see over 160 examples of porcelains from more than 40 different companies or workshops based in Jiujiang during the Republic period (a few of the names below may actually be later names for the same company).
Jiujiang Porcelain Companies:- with dates of inscribed examples
- Jiujiang An Ji Ci Dian
- Jiujiang Bao Ji
- Jiujiang Chan Yu Cheng
- Jiujiang Chen ??? (probably Chen Lie Shi) 1936
- Jiujiang Ciye Chen Lie Shi
- Jiujiang Ciye Gongsi
- Jiujiang Ciye Shang Dian 1926
- Jiujiang Da Xing Gongsi 1932
- Jiujiang De Cheng
- Jiujiang De Ji 1933, 1935
- Jiujiang Feng Qing Shun Gai Liang
- Jiujiang Gan Hua 1934
- Jiujiang Guang Hua
- Jiujiang Hua Chang 1932,1934,1936
- Jiujiang Hua Sheng
- Jiujiang Hui Kang
- Jiujiang Jin Hua
- Jiujiang Jin Yuan
- Jiujiang Jing Hua 1933
- Jiujiang Jiu Chang Ci Zhuang 1934
- Jiujiang Lei De Mao 1936
- Jiujiang Li Sheng 1937, 1947
- Jiujiang Liu Fuxing 1918
- Jiujiang Mei Hua
- Jiujiang Qing Hua
- Jiujiang Rong Hua 1931, 1934
- Jiujiang Run Sheng Yuan Zhi
- Jiujiang Shou Ji 1933
- Jiujiang Shu Hua 1935
- Jiujiang Tai De Chang
- Jiujiang Tao Cheng 1923
- Jiujiang Xie Xing Cheng
- Jiujiang Xing Zhang(?)
- Jiujiang Yi He
- Jiujiang Yi Sheng
- Jiujiang Yu Shun Sheng
- Jiujiang Yu Zhang 1937
- Jiujiang Yuan Dong 1934, 1935, 1936, 1937
- Jiujiang Zhen Chang
- Jiujiang Zhen Dong 1923
- Jiujiang Zhen Hua
- Jiujiang Zheng Tao 1916
- Jiujiang Zhi An 1935
- Shao Sheng Xie Yu Jiujiang 1928 maybe
- Jiujiang ? Hua Chu Pin 1925
- No mark, but inscription 1924
- Da Qing Guangxu Nian Zhi 1931
Most of the dates are in the 1930s: this may be a reflection of fashion, i.e. it was popular and exclusive to have inscriptions on porcelain made to order during this period, or it could also reflect the burgeoning industry in Jiujiang at this time. Probably a bit of both. If the ‘heyday’ of Jiujiang porcelain was the period 1946-1948 (see above), then at this time fewer pieces were dated and/or these pieces have not survived in the ‘record’.
You will also see a remarkable similarity in the calligraphy of a series of these marks, probably written by a small number of writers, even though the company names are different. At this stage, I am not sure what this means. In general, we do not know the identity of the calligraphers, especially those who did the marks (sometimes the calligrapher of an inscription on the body of the porcelain will sign his name).
It is well documented in the Chinese literature that white glazed ‘blanks’ which were made in the big high temperature Jingdezhen kilns were then sold on to smaller manufacturers in Jiujiang, Nanchang, Shanghai, Fujian and Jingdezhen itself. These smaller businesses installed ‘red’ kilns (lower firing kilns which could set the enamels so popular at this time, but could not do high-fired underglaze blue and white wares) and hired painters and apprentices to make special orders for individuals and shops in their locality. This is the main reason why there are so many private company marks during this period.
The shapes of the porcelains produced by these studios and factories are therefore quite similar, especially for the more complex shapes. Thus, while these Jiujiang studios may have had different suppliers of plain rice bowls, with their slight peculiarities of shape, size and proportions, the suppliers (from Jingdezhen) of cong shaped vases or lidded serving bowls appear to have been fewer and therefore these exact shapes can be seen on differently decorated wares from Jiujiang, Nanchang, Shanghai and Jingdezhen.
It is also apparent that the Jiujiang studios/factories/shops sold some favourite shapes – the most obvious are the lidded serving bowls (small, medium and large sizes) you will see many examples of below.
From all I have been able to discover about Jiujiang porcelain production in the Republic period, it would appear that the production can be divided into two segments – that period from around 1910 to 1937 and from 1945/6 to 1949/50, and perhaps even slightly later, into the Communist era. Between 1937 and 1945 the invasion by Japanese forces and the continuing war caused the almost complete destruction of the small porcelain manufacturers and the shops which sold their wares, especially in Jiujiang and Nanchang. In many cases the proprietors and staff left their factories and shops, packed up what they could and escaped to safer parts of China’s provinces. Many never returned. However, in other cases, relations of original shop and factory owners set up businesses again in Jiujiang, sometimes in the same premises. The names of these businesses changed a little or a lot, and it will be interesting to eventually track how the porcelains themselves changed with the tumultuous times! In some cases after 1949, the names of private companies were changed to reflect the new government’s ownership or control.
Before starting out on this study I thought that I had a fairly good idea about which patterns, which shapes and which pieces fitted into broad categories of Early or Late Republic, i.e. 1910 -1929 or 1930-1949, perhaps with a subset of pre 1937 (war with Japan) and post war 1945-1949. I have to say that after looking at the patterns and dating of these Jiujiang pieces, I can at present see no correlation between or within these dates. As a generality I can say that the pieces earlier in the Republic period have pattern elements which hark back to the Qing Dynasty whereas those later in the Republic have lost all traces of these influences and have been led by the patterns of the Qianjiang and Literati porcelain painters.
If you make your way through the images below you will be introduced to a very good range of typical Republic period patterns, some will be familiar, some new, and some are just idiosyncratic. However, I hope that by the end of this visual tour you can imagine the workers, artists, shop owners and customers in the busy streets of Jiujiang during the 1920s and 1930s and later.
Below are images of Jiujiang porcelain examples in alphabetical order, according to the base mark. All are considered to be Republic period in age, although it is possible that a few may be slightly later. These images form the bulk of this report and it is worth looking carefully, especially to try to determine pattern similarities between and within the separate companies, and also to examine the calligraphy of the base marks and how they may change over time, and then to see what sorts of patterns are being produced – dynastically based or based on Qianjiang and Literati innovations of the late 1800s and early 1900s:
JIUJIANG AN JI CI DIAN (2 examples)This cup/mug is a typical Chinese shape and subject. Although not dated, the oval stamped mark with 3 divisions, the type of landscape colours and the mug shape suggest a late Republic age, 10.8cmH.
JIUJIANG BAO JI (2 examples)
JIUJIANG CHAN YU CHENG (1 example)
JIUJIANG CHEN (1 example)
Jardiniere with puce landscape and long inscription. The artist/studio name has yet to be translated, but is probably the same as the example below – Chen Lie Shi. The planter is dated to the Bing Zi year, 1936.
JIUJIANG CIYE CHEN LIE SHI (1 example)
JIUJIANG CIYE GONGSI (6 examples)
From the examples below this appears to be a company producing towards the later part of the Republic period, and therefore probably has little to do with the very famous Jiangxi Porcelain Company (Jiangxi Ciye Gongsi), based in Jingdezhen and its surrounds. Jiujiang Ciye Gongsi specialises in mainly utilitarian wares with standard patterns, such as the competently made blue ground Bao Xiang Hua tablewares, and the apple green graviata dragon lidded serving pot.
This teapot, 8.5cmH, with Qilongs amongst scrolls is slip cast with a straw-blown apple green glaze, stamped red mark. This type of decoration also appears below with four similarly decorated pieces from the Jiujiang Guang Hua company. I have also seen a teapot of exactly this shape and decoration with a red stamped four character kaishu Qianlong Nian Zhi mark. We do know that the Jiujiang Guang Hua Company was renamed after WWII to the Jiujiang Porcelain Industrial Company so this may be that mark, and therefore could date the company to post 1945 (However, we also know that this type of decoration was not made long after 1949 because of cost factors, Mr Kung Pers.Comm 2001 Hong Kong).
Large lidded serving pot, 26cm D, with graviata dragons and pearl on an apple green enamel ground. Although this green enamel and blue enamel versions of this pattern are around they remain rare compared to the carmine enamel examples.
This white scalloped plate with a bird and flower pattern dosen’t look quite right to me. The enamels are garish and the painting style very stiff. However, I have never seen a plate of this period with such ‘ribbed’ relief, so I am deferring judgement for now. The mark looks to be similar to that on the seal paste box above. Latest Republic if not brand new.
JIUJIANG CIYE SHANG DIAN (7 examples)
This is probably an offshoot of the Jiujiang Ciye Gongsi(above) or it could be another business altogether. ‘Shang Dian’ means a ‘store’ or ‘trade warehouse’ and appears on porcelain from Jiujiang and Shanghai. One example below is dated to the 1920s, but there looks to be a range of ages in the other pieces below.
Small lidded serving bowl with meticulously painted dragon medallions, a small multi-coloured key fret and an uncommon overglaze blue ruyi border to the lid, green wave border to the base, 16cmD. Stamped red mark. Not sure what the meaning of ‘Ya Zhi’ is.
The shape of this pot, with extremely well painted pink and green prunus branches and an inscription, looks too ‘old’ to have a circle mark, especially one which reads left to right (this was put into practice in PRC times from about 1950-1958) and has a number – 3. A conundrum.
JIUJIANG DA XING (3 examples)
The Jiujiang Great Prosperity (‘Da Xing’) Company. This is a large puce coloured intricately painted landscape lidded serving bowl. Handwritten red mark. Rare shape and size, although it is found on a few other Republic period pieces, 25cmD
The Jiujiang Great Prosperity (‘Da Xing’) Company. This plate is from Anthony J Allen’s book, Introduction to Later Chinese Porcelain. Handwritten red mark on a yellow graviata ground plate with blue and red chinese character ideograms. Translation of the ideograms would give added information; I know similar ideograms from a Nanchang made example gave the company and its affiliations in the ideograms.
JIUJIANG DE CHENG (2 examples)
Teapot, globular form, with beautifully painted wisteria flowers and leaves. These wisteria are reminiscent of the way artist Zou Wen Hou painted, see Jiujiang Hua Chang and Jiujiang Lei De Mao company examples below.
JIUJIANG DE JI (3 examples)
A pine, crane and pink peony bowl, 16.5cmD. Both the pine (song) and the crane (he) symbolize longevity, together they are known as ‘song ling he shou’ meaning to live as long as a pine and crane. Add Spring (chun, perhaps the peony gives this) and the wish is for newly-weds to grow old in life together. Stamped mark in red. Dated in the inscription to the Yi Hai year, 1935 and given as a gift
JIUJIANG FENG QING SHUN GAI LIANG (1 example)
Teapot with landscape and a red mark, 9cmH, hard to tell if stamped or handwritten, two inscriptions. One inscription says “? Jiu Qing Shun Ci Pin” – made by Qing Shun Company; the other “Qiu Ying Tao Yang” this latter meaning Autumn Shadow Wave Sunny (shining).
JIUJIANG GAN HUA (5 examples)
Large lidded serving bowl with beautifully painted chrysanthemums and foliage with ‘new’ enamels, 19.5cmD. Handwritten red mark. The leaves of this piece show a distinctive sgraffito or scratched back technique. Dating of this type of decoration using these enamels likely to be 1945-1950.
This lidded serving bowl is obviously a ‘marriage’ – the decoration on the base (chrysanthemums) and lid (roses or peonies?) are quite different, as are the marks, one given as Jiujiang Gan Hua, the lid coming from a Nanchang Zhen Hua company, 16cmD. The inscription is on the lid with the Nanchang Zhen Hua mark, with a 1935 date.
JIUJIANG GUANG HUA (11 examples)
The Guang Hua company (see below) is quite well known. We do know that “Du Zhongyuan (a Jingdezhen porcelain factory reformer in the 1930s) established the pottery industry management bureau in Jingdezhen, and the brighten porcelain factory in Jiujiang” (http://en.cnki.com.cn/Article_en/CJFDTOTAL-GNSY201004032.htm) Whether this ‘brighten porcelain factory’ is the same as the ‘Guang Hua’ factory is as yet unknown. The ‘Everbright’ Porcelain company (which may be another translation) was established in 1935, but was closed as a result of the Japanese war in 1937. Left over equipment was requisitioned by the Japanese and then traded as Central China Ceramics Co., Ltd. during the war years. At the end of WWII, its name was changed again to Jiujiang Industrial Porcelain Company, until communist takeover in 1949. Then a public/private partnership existed until 1956, when under government control was renamed Jiujiang Ci Chang, making utilitarian porcelain wares. So a ‘Jiujiang Guang Hua’ mark may give a pretty good dating of 1935-37 (but see below for alternatives thoughts on dating). The apparent owner of this company, at least in the 1930s, was Dai Qixiang.
Stamped red mark, slip cast plate with scrolls, key fret and Qilong in relief, with a straw blown apple green enamel. There are three examples of this decoration for this company, indicating it was at least one of their specialities. This straw blown glaze was relatively time consuming and was generally not employed after 1949 (although I have a similarly made bowl with a circle mark and numbers, which usually indicates a 1950s dating).
Teapot with chrysanthemums and other flowers, 11.5cmH. The image is not clear enough to determine if these flowers are beautifully painted or transferred although I think probably handpainted, as this was a reasonably common specialty pattern in the late Republic early PRC period, not often seen in the West but highly regarded in China as the prototype was originally painted by Wang Bu. Stamped red mark. Untranslated inscription.
Many porcelains with ‘Guang Hua’ within their marks have Jiangxi prefixes instead of Jiujiang (see below), but it would appear to be a Jiujiang based company.
‘Horseshoe’ cup with old man (Shou Lao?), inscription and handwritten mark with a ‘Jiangxi’ rather than ‘Jiujiang’ prefix. This example has not been verified but the mark is calligraphically similar to the example above.
JIUJIANG HUA CHANG (9 examples)
The Hua Chang company appears to have produced quite high-end pieces. Two inscribed lidded serving bowls with exceptional enamel painting and a well painted dragon & phoenix in medallion teapot are shown below, all from Chinese porcelain forums. There are also several examples which have no place name prefix and are just ‘Hua Chang Ciye Shang Dian’ on the base or in the inscriptions: ‘Jiangxi Hua Chang Chu Pin’ and ‘Hua Chang Ciye Gongsi’, the latter dated Ren Shen, 1932.
This beautifully painted small lidded serving bowl,15cmD, with a handwritten mark is painted by Zou Wen Hou and is dated in the inscription to 1936. The painting is very similar to a Jiujiang Lei De Mao teapot shown below, also dated to 1936, and signed Zou Wen Hou. There is at present no known relationship between these two companies. Zou Wen Hou produced extremely beautiful porcelain painting and his plaques and teapots etc are highly sought after. He started work for Liang Duishi’s shop in Jiujiang, called Lize Xuan, in 1930 and was there until 1939 when he moved to Jingdezhen. He would have painted many specialist pieces and would also have had a great influence on other painters and apprentices in the city. The inscription translates = Bing Zi ( 1936), third month, Mr. Ganxi “xian sheng qing jian” (a very humble and respectful saying ), Wu Wen Hou (I am not sure if my translator has mistaken Zou Wen Hou’s name or if it does say ‘Wu’ and this is another name for this celebrated artist).
This serving bowl, minus lid, shows a pattern of Chinese character ideograms in iron red, with 3 inscriptions, no base mark, 19cm D. The calligraphy on the main inscription is by the same hand as the serving bowl below, which is dated to 1932.
Lidded serving bowl with a blue landscape, dated in the inscription to Autumn, 1932. See example above for comparison of inscription calligraphy. This implies that the bowl was made in Jiujiang at the Hua Chang Company.
JIUJIANG HUA SHENG (2 examples)
JIUJIANG HUI KANG (1 example)
Product of Hui Kang company/workshop or painted by someone called Kang. Handwritten red mark, which looks a little similar to the stamped mark below for Jiujiang Shou Ji Ci She. Dragon & phoenix medallion bowl with bats, multi-coloured small key fret and stylised wave basal border, 12cm D.
JIUJIANG JIN HUA (2 examples)
JIUJIANG JIN YUAN (1 example)
JIUJIANG JING HUA (3 examples)
Dinner and Tea Set with a cohesive but variable pattern which includes an elongate rock, bamboo, nandina, lingzhi fungus and flowering narcissus. Sometimes other elements are included, such as a sun and waves, and a crane or other bird, but the products from this company appear identical and by the same artist’s hand. The pattern is called Qunxian in Chinese from what I can gather, and is used to convey special birthday wishes.
Saucer, with angular rock, bamboo, nandina, lingzhi and narcissus, overglaze blue handwritten mark, and an eight character undeciphered inscription, except for the date, Gui You, 1933. Beautifully made and painted.
Teapot with overglaze blue handwritten mark. This pattern of a rock with bamboo, nandina, narcissi, lingzhi fungi and sometimes a red plumed bird is found on several Jiujiang pieces. Other examples have a Jiujiang Rong Hua blue mark, see below. The symbolism is used to convey birthday wishes and longevity.
JIUJIANG JIU CHANG (2 examples)
Another lidded serving bowl, one of very many with Jiujiang marks – it is a common shape, 19cmD, stamped blue mark. The inscription gives a date to Autumn, 1934, and is a gift to a deputy commander of the Kuomintang Army named Tong Linge (Google translated!). Ci Zhuang translates as Ceramic Village.
JIUJIANG LEI DE MAO (7 examples)
The Lei De Mao company or workshop produced consistently high quality items, many with bird and flower decoration. The beautiful painting is on bulbous teapots, bowls and other utilitarian wares, but they really stand out as special pieces. One artist identified is Zou Wen Hou, who died in 1951 and produced works for several Jiujiang companies, but also in his own right. He came to Jiujiang in 1930/31 to produce works for Liang Duishi’s shop, the Lize Xuan. He went to work in Jingdezhen in 1939. Another well-known artist, Bi Botao, also worked for the Lize Xuan.
Another very special piece from this maker/studio, this one a beautiful small teapot, 11cmH, with a bird and wisteria branch plus foliage, all meticulously painted and with an inscription dated to 1936. The inscription indicates that the teapot was given to a teacher, Shu Zhen, by Sheng Gai Hui Min, on the 1st of May, 25th year of the Republic, 1936. ‘Yu Ye Yin Gou’ – ‘Jade enterprise silver hook’. The painting of wisterias on this teapot is very distinctive and is similar to the small lidded serving bowl with the Jiujiang Hua Chang mark (see above).
Another very well painted teapot, peonies and foliage I think, but very distinctive and can be seen on other special pieces from the Republic. These bulbous bodied teapots are particular to this maker/studio/shop, it would seem, stamped red mark.
JIUJIANG LI SHENG (6 examples)
The Li Sheng studio also produces high quality items, at least in the earlier part of the Republic period, but it made basic utilitarian wares as well. Of note is the low quality of the stamped base marks on some beautifully made pieces! The marks usually say Jiangxi Li Sheng but this is undoubtedly a Jiujiang company.
Li Sheng is probably a studio name, with a small inscription on this plate indicating that the artist is Yunxi Shan Qiao, a known artist of snow landscapes but especially renowned for his black diaper borders. A snowy landscape hanging plate with an intricate black diaper and filigree border, 21.8cmD. From the Jiangxi Provincial Museum, in the book ‘The Complete Collection of Jiangxi Province, 2008. The use of zhuanshu seal characters for the stamped private company mark is unusual for this time period.
Sold by Christies in May, 2011. This small teapot, 16.5cmD, with two songbirds among peonies is inscribed and dated the 10th of May, thirty-six years of Republic period (1947), as an engagement present to Mao Qian Yi and Jiang Rui Ying. Crudely stamped red mark.
Small teapot with well painted chrysanthemums and foliage, a meticulous red and black filigree border, and an inscription giving a date of 1937 (there have been cases where the dating ‘30’ + ‘7’ + ‘made’ without a ‘Mingguo’ prefix doesn’t actually mean 1937, but really equates to 1948, meaning 37th year of the Republic – this might be the case here considering the datings of the other Li Sheng teapot above, decoration could be either, but the black borders do look 1940s?). Stamped red mark.
JIUJIANG LIU FUXING (1 example)
Cylindrical vase with old sage and boy under a pine tree, 28.5cmH. Stamped red mark reads Liu Fuxing Hao. Inscription reads Liu Fuxing Jiujiang Keci with a dating to the Wu Wu year, 1918. This example from the book, Canon of Colored Ceramic painting of Famous Artists in Modern China 2005, and one of the earliest exampls of Republic period Jiujiang porcelain in this report. Liu Fuxing is a known Republic period artist.
JIUJIANG MEI HUA (2 examples)
JIUJIANG QING HUA (4 examples)
This company makes a range of uncomplicated utilitarian wares, with consistent marks in stamped overglaze blue. There is a large group of early C20th pieces which have a ‘Qing Hua Zhen Pin’ mark in underglaze blue or iron red, all handwritten (see my Republic marks reports), but there is little likelihood that they are the same company as this one, unless this is a later incarnation after the war with Japan.
JIUJIANG RONG HUA (13 examples)
The Jiujiang Rong Hua Company produces some very high quality items but, like some of the other companies or shops, with quite a large range of shapes and decorations. ‘Rong Hua’ means prosperity. Dated pieces all from the 1930s.
An ogee scallop edged plate with bird and flower on a rock, and an inscription which includes a dating to 1934, Jia Xu. The decoration looks very similar to that on some of the Jiujiang Zhi An examples and a Jiujiang Yuan Dong teapot. Stamped overglaze blue mark. The inscription indicates that the plate was a gift from Mr Zhu Dajun to Mr Pei Shen.
An iron red dragon bowl amongst stylised clouds and flames and a multi-coloured keyfret. The auction description noted the base mark as Jiujiang Rong Hua Gongsi. Not a common pattern for Jiujiang wares, most appear to be made in Jingdezhen or Nanchang.
A plate with a small red feathered bird on a rock and a red berried nandina bamboo, bamboo, lingzhi fungus and narcissus, expressing birthday wishes. Handwritten red mark. See Jiujiang Jing Hua examples of this pattern, above. This plate was discussed on the Gotheborg Board.
Small teapot with HeHe boys decoration, 11.8cmW. Inscription dates it to the 23rd year of the Republic, 1934, and gives congratulations on an engagement from friends and relatives. Stamped overglaze blue mark.
Plate, 20.05cmD, with dragon medallions & phoenix medallions and a multi-coloured key fret scalloped border. Handwritten red mark. Almost identical to the example above, but with slight differences to the decoration and the mark.
Teabowl and lid with the Qunxian birthday decoration in its full glory, including the standard elements but also a flying crane, a thatched dwelling amongst clouds and a rising sun above waves, all to give more prosperous blessings to the receiver! Stamped overglaze blue mark.
JIUJIANG RUN SHENG YUAN ZHI (1 example)
SHAO SHENG XIE YU JIUJIANG (1 example)
Small jardinière and base with reserved moulded landscape scenes and inscriptions, 8.5cmH. This is a classic Republic period jardinière shape and usually has landscapes and inscriptions or flowers of the four seasons depicted on the moulded raised panels. No base mark. Possible 1928 dating.
JIUJIANG SHOU JI (2 examples)
JIUJIANG SHU HUA (2 examples)
JIUJIANG TAI DE CHANG CHU PIN (1 example)
JIUJIANG TAO CHENG (2 examples)
JIUJIANG XIE XING CHENG (1 example)
JIUJIANG XING ZHANG ZHEN PIN (1 example)
Bowl with a yellow and black-spotted dragon, painted in a cartoon style, 12.5cmD. This type of dragon appears in the mid to late Republic period, from several companies including Jiangxi Porcelain Company and the Jiujiang An Ji company (at top of this list), and is very distinctive, being cartoonlike in character and very lively.
JIUJIANG YI HE (1 example)
JIUJIANG YI SHENG (3 examples)
A lidded pot with a mountain and hut landscape, short inscription. Handwritten red mark. The inscription reads “Tai bai dou jiu” = Mr. Tai Bai (the most famous poet in the Tang Dynasty who is renowned for drinking) alcohol race!
JIUJIANG YU SHUN SHENG (or just Shun Sheng) (2 examples)
Large lidded serving pot, 26cmD, with landscape scene and two inscriptions. Jiangxi and Shun Sheng in the inscription but the owner noted that the pot is from Jiujiang. Shun Sheng is a known Republican artist’s name.
JIUJIANG YU ZHANG (5 examples)
Puce landscape sauce dish with inscription, 8.1cmD, inscription dating to the Ding Chou year, Autumn 1937. The rest of the inscription reads ‘Han Qing Zhi , Yu Tao Yang ( Person’s Name), but not sure if Yu Tao Yang is the artist’s name. Stamped overglaze blue mark. This is a different ‘Zhang’ character to those above and has more similarity to the Jiujiang Xing Zhang example above. The calligraphy is different as well.
JIUJIANG YUAN DONG (25 examples)
This company is quite well known and translates as the Jiujiang Far East Company. Twenty five examples are shown below, eight of which are small lidded serving bowls, which may have been their speciality. Four examples are dated, one each to 1934, 1935, 1936 and 1937. Many of the serving bowls are painted with beautifully rendered flowers and their base marks are all consistently written by the same calligrapher. Three of the chinese website examples are yellow graviata ground with primary coloured chinese character ideograms. This pattern is seen on other Jiujiang marked porcelains and may also have been a speciality to the city. All but two of the base marks are handwritten, and all these handwritten ones are trying to look the same. However, some look like they are done by a student/apprentice contemporaneously to the original calligrapher, or are slightly later in the Republic, or they are recent copies. I am uncertain whether the stamped marks occur by ‘whimsy’ or for some other particular reason, or signify that they were made slightly later in the Republic period.
Carmine ground teapot with a blue landscape in an ogival cartouche on one side and an inscription on the other, “Shou mei– Kun lao shang ren, qi xun da qing, Wan Shan Qing Jin Zhu” = Life eyebrow (stands for long life), Mr. Kun, his seventieth birthday and a big celebration, sincere wishes from Wan Shanqing. Handwritten red mark, but not in quite the same manner as the calligrapher of the pieces above.
Set of plates, tray, horseshoe cups, serving bowls and wine pot in yellow graviata ground with blue and red chinese character ideograms. Stamped red mark. All the shapes in this set are very consistent for the Republic period.
This lidded serving bowl, 19cmD, in lime green has ogival cartouches depicting roosters and inscriptions and a main cartouche showing a hawk on an elongate rock (possibly amidst stylised waves) with a lingzhi fungus, the sun, berries and a longer inscription. The shape of this serving bowl is the same as the floral bowls of this company (above & below), but the mark calligraphy is more ‘boxy’. The inscription indicates this to be a gift to the regimental commander of the Central Military Academy, Ai Gong, special training class in Hunan, celebrating the 4th term of the of the 3rd group of the Hunan Security Regiment. Given by Mr Yu Xun. This commander apparently then went to Taiwan in 1949, dying in Taipei in 1970. I see a Bing Zi, 1936, date in the inscription.
This teabowl set with goldfish and water plant foliage is of a typical Republic shape but the handwritten red mark is the least similar to other ‘Yuan Dong’ marks. However, it looks to be painted by the same artist as the bowl below, which has a dating to 1935.
This bowl with goldfish and water plants was probably decorated by the same artist as the teabowl above, 12.5cmD. Handwritten red mark, rather scrambled. Inscription gives a dating to the 24th year of the Republic, 1935, but is otherwise untranslated.
Teapot with bird and flowers, peonies and a pheasant on rocks, 14cmH, with similar painting of the bird to the Jiujiang Zhi An products. Handwritten red mark. The inscription is a poem about lifestyle.
This dish has a remarkable story – found with a Chinese silver dollar when a wall was removed for renovation, in China. The images are very poor but the inscription dates the dish to 1937 and was apparently given to commemorate Yun Lu Qin training with the Guomindang troops and fighting at the “Marco Polo Bridge incident” in that year. Handwritten red mark.
This plate has a decoration of a pair of ducks on a lotus pond, usually meaning a wish for marital bliss, 15cmD. There are also blue overglaze floral sprays around the edge. I have not seen this particular version of this decoration before. Handwritten red mark.
Small lidded serving bowl with a handwritten red marks, figural scenes, probably deities. Handwritten red mark. This serving bowl has a more highly domed lid than usual – a different white ‘blank’ supplier from Jingdezhen perhaps.
A dish with iron red chinese ideograms, very nicely done, 14.5cmD. Two short inscriptions, one saying ‘Wealth & Longevity’, the other ‘Seeking Longevity & attaining it’ – this dish was discussed on the Gotheborg Board.
Jiujiang Zhen Chang (1 example)
JIUJIANG ZHEN DONG (6 examples)
The Jiujiang Zhen Dong Company translates to ‘Rising East Company’ but I can find little more information.
Stamped overglaze blue mark on a set of porcelain depicting the pine, peony and crane motif in an ogival cartouche on a plain yellow ground. The inscription on the larger pieces is aspirational “Pine, Crane, Noble, Rich”.
JIUJIANG ZHEN HUA (1 example)
JIUJIANG ZHEN XI ZHEN PIN (1 example)
This plate has a vivid plain yellow ground, with cartouche containing figures in a bamboo forest and inscriptions. This pattern is usually done by the Jiangxi Porcelain Company, probably in its later years at the end of the Republic, and was mass produced – the examples I have seen are usually in poor condition. This example is of a much higher quality and has been kept in pristine condition.
JIUJIANG ZHENG TAO (7 examples)
There are seven examples shown below from the Zheng Tao Company or School in Jiujiang. All have handwritten red marks, and most are plates or dishes. There is a very early dated bowl, 1916, but I have not been able to discover anything about this company.
Handwritten red mark. product of Zheng Tao, company or even a school name. Shallow dish/plate with medallions containing red dragons and stylised clouds and flames, and with a multi-coloured small keyfret and two-colour spearhead border, 18.6cmD.
Footed quatrefoil bowl with handwritten red mark, 10”x8”. Nicely painted chrysanthemums and bird. Dated in the inscription to the 5th year of the Republic, 1916, so this is quite an early example, perhaps also indicated by this particular shape.
Large tureen with an apple green glaze and a cartouche containing a very well painted peony & bird on one side and wisteria & bird on the other side, 18.8cmD. Many similar tureens with this kind of pattern, from other Jiangxi-wide companies, are much less detailed and painstaking. The best of this type I have seen.
JIUJIANG ZHI AN (5 examples)
The Zhi An company seems to specialise in Pheasant Peony & Rock decoration as well as Goldfish & Ceratophyllum (water plant).
This beautifully painted bowl auctioned by Christies in December 2012, with the reverse inscribed and dated ‘nian si nian wu yue jiu ri’, or ninth day of the fifth month of the twenty-fourth year, i.e. 1935, 12.5cmD. Stamped overglaze blue mark.
Bowl with highly coloured fanciful pheasant on a rock with pink and yellow peonies, 16.5cmD. Stamped overglaze blue mark. The inscription gives a date to the 24th year of the Republic, 1935, 9th of May, bought at Gan Xun. A subsidiary inscription says “Tiao Sheng Jia Yong Pin” or Tiao Sheng homeware product.
Another serving bowl with goldfish and water plants, 19cmD. There are two short inscriptions and a stamped red mark. This rendition of the pattern is more like those of the Yuan Dong company than the example above.
UNDECIPHERED & OTHER MARKS
This very well and traditionally painted dragon and phoenix bowl, with a multi-coloured keyfret and stylised basal wave border, also has a ‘traditional’ handwritten base mark, pertaining to the Guangxu period of the Qing dynasty. Dated from an inscription in the interior of the bowl to the 20th year (of the Republic) to 1931. Many such bowls were made throughout the Republic with dynastic marks, but there is a small possibility that this is an authentic Guangxu bowl which has been inscribed at a later date.
This teabowl with a nice landscape has a handwritten Jiangxi base mark and an as yet untranslated inscription, 12.5cmD. However, the owner of the bowl talked about the Jiujiang Pottery School in his description so I assume that there may be some mention of this in the inscription (no ‘Jiujiang’ though) or at least the mention of a famous teacher or the like? If anyone can translate this inscription?
This is another late runner for this report. A lidded mug with green and pink blossomed prunus branches, a short inscription, 14.5cmH. The ‘Yunshan’ in the base mark refers to an artist called Lu Yunshan (1901-1974) who worked in Jiujiang from 1921-1925 before going to Shanghai, returned to Jiujiang in 1932-1937 when he settled in Jingdezhen. This is a good piece to finish on as I imagine that many Republic period painters had this kind of itinerant existence, working in many places, developing new styles and disseminating these patterns in the studios around the province.
Looking at all these Jiujiang examples the main thing that strikes me is the number of extremely well painted decorations of flowers and foliage. There are very individual painting styles and combinations which I feel sure could be traced to individual painting masters and/or their apprentices. Examples include the pheasant and peony decorations from the Zhi An company, the landscapes of the Zheng Tao company and beautifully rendered flowers from the Yuan Dong and Lei De Mao companies.
I think this city-based investigation of Republic period porcelains is quite interesting. A study of the mark calligraphy of these companies and others throughout Jiangxi would be very interesting. Who were these calligraphers? Did they also do the decorations? Why are they so distinctive to this period?
The range of examples above allows speculation that the artists produced their ‘ranges’ in their ‘red kiln’ studios, patterns specific to them, and then sold them to several shops in Jiujiang, each with an appropriate ‘shop’ mark. This would explain why similar patterns are found with a range of different marks, although there were some which were ‘exclusive’.
The following patterns stand out:
- Puce or Blue Landscapes, also including the blue bamboo forest examples
- Flower & Bird, particularly chrysanthemums, with some companies specialising in particular birds, such as the bright coloured pheasants from the Zhi An company or the bluebird and forget-me-not pattern
- Dragon and Phoenix medallions, each done in a very ‘provincial’ style, not slap-dash at all, but colourful and artful, compared to more conventional examples (from Jingdezhen?)
- Plain coloured ground pieces with cartouche containing landscapes, birds, flowers and/or inscriptions
- Goldfish and waterplants, naturally painted – the plant translates to ‘Ceratophyllum’
- Yellow Graviata with red and blue chinese character ideograms, also including the refined iron-red chinese ideograms on a plain white ground.
- ‘Birthday’ pattern of an elongate rock with bamboo, nandina, lingzhi and narcissus on a crisp white ground.
- Apple green slipcast pieces, usually with a Qilong, scroll & keyfret decoration
- Other patterns including deities, dragon & phoenix, standard multi-coloured landscapes, millefleur, He He boys, blue ground Bao Xiang Hua.
It is also fascinating to track the patterns peculiar to a particular shop, factory or workshop, like the apple green straw blown examples above, or even the very distinctive monochrome coral bowls. As we decipher pieces with inscriptions, it may throw out more connections.
In addition it will be interesting to understand the relevance of the suffixes of the base marks: Gongsi, Chu Pin, Zhen Pin, Ci She, Ci Zhuang, especially if they have some relative dating significance. Perhaps they don’t mean much at all…..
Best wishes, Michaela Russell, Sydney, Australia