‘Flower Balls’ on C19th and C20th Chinese porcelain (花球 Huā qiú)

CompSingle 1A    A series of individual Flower Balls, from a range of time periods…
CompSingle 2B    A series of individual Flower Balls, from a range of time periods…

 

‘Flower Balls’ are a highly varied pattern, and at first glance some of the examples don’t seem to have anything in common. However, once you zoom into these gorgeous circular medallions, a whole new world opens up. Whilst some are simply geometric or flower based designs, others show dragons, roosters, landscapes and all sorts of other goodies, all bundled into a circular medallion shape.

CompSingle 3C    A series of individual Flower Balls, from a range of time periods…

 

The pattern has changed through the centuries with Qianlong examples, a range of 19th century forms, and then a classic keyfret bordered design through Guangxu, the Republic and early PROC.

CompSingle 4D    A series of individual Flower Balls, from a range of time periods…
CompSingle 5E   A series of individual Flower Balls, from a range of time periods…
CompSingle 6F   A series of individual Flower Balls, from a range of time periods…
CompSingle 7G    A series of individual Flower Balls, from a range of time periods…
CompSingle 8H   A series of individual Flower Balls, from a range of time periods…
CompSingle 9I    A series of individual Flower Balls, from a range of time periods…
CompSingle 10J   A series of individual Flower Balls, from a range of time periods…
CompSingle 11K    A series of individual Flower Balls, from a range of time periods…
CompSingle 12L   A series of individual Flower Balls, from a range of time periods…

 

The twelve mixed flower ball series above have been taken from actual pieces shown below. I am hoping that by the end of this report you might be able to date each single one a little better!

All the examples below are shown in ‘like’ groupings, in a roughly chronological sequence.

 

YONGZHENG

Starting with a Yongzheng example from Sotheby’s, showing doucai enamels of underglaze blue and overglaze enamels of red, green, yellow and aubergine. This combination continued through to the 19th century and has been produced again in the late C20th and to the present day (these latter being copies as they have Yongzheng, Qianlong or Daoguang marks):-

 

1_Sothebys_39_0101 Yongzheng doucai bowls, Sotheby’s

 

2_Sothebys_96_0102 Yongzheng bowl, Sotheby’s

 

 

QIANLONG

A Qianlong example, also from Sotheby’s, shows the continuation of pinks into the enamels, and perhaps even some overglaze blue:-

 

3_Sothebys_65_0503

 

4_Sothebys_38_0204

 

5_Sothebys_12_0105 Qianlong brushpot with flower balls on a feathered gilt ground, Sotheby’s

 

 

JIAQING

A Jiaqing Sotheby’s example adds black enamels and some new textures, no underglaze blue on this one:-

 

6_Sothebys_78_0106

 

A rarer form of the Jiaqing mark can be found on some doucai examples:-

7_BR0200_107

 

8_BR0160_208

 

 

 

DAOGUANG

 

9_Christies_104_0309 Daoguang teabowl, Christies

 

10_Sothebys_96_0210 Faux bois ground with interesting large flower balls, Shendetang Zhi mark, Sotheby’s

 

 

11_Sothebys_96_0411 Daoguang bowl, showing a few balls with patterns of gourds, etc rather than just geometric flowers, Sotheby’s

 

 

12_Sothebys_96_0612 Daoguang bowl, showing a few balls with peaches & bats, etc rather than just geometric flowers, Sotheby’s

 

 

13_Christies_118_0113 Daoguang dish, just geometric flower balls, Sotheby’s

 

 

19th CENTURY

During the 19th century a number of geometric flower ball examples with underglaze blue Qianlong or other mid Qing marks appeared, all with a medium-dark dull blue sgraffito background (some have argued that these might be mark & period, but I don’t think so… happy to hear another view though) :-

 

14_BR0064_314

 

 

15_BR0087_115

 

 

16_BR0141_216

 

 

17_BR0406_117

 

 

18_BR0586_118

 

 

19_BR0592_119

 

 

20_BR0609_220

 

 

21_BR0850_121

 

 

22_BR0850_222

 

 

23_BR_MR55_037023

 

 

 

An uncommon duo with underglaze blue and white scroll or diaper background and pink based flower balls, C19th:-

24_BR0029_224

 

 

25_BR0066_325

 

Most of the previous examples show flower balls as quite simple geometric and radial representations of flowers or petals.

However, by the Late Qing period, a new set of ‘flower balls’ starts to make an appearance. These include circular medallion representations of roosters, peaches, plants, diamonds and other new forms.

Examples of this new addition of flower balls usually have a white ground and are often intermixed with ‘one hundred antiques’ elements. Most have no marks, late 19th century in the main:-

26_BR0297_326 Wash basin with figures and flower balls, late Qing

 

 

27_BR0302_127 Charger with flower balls and buddhist emblems, ruyi border, iron red bamboo sprays on back, late Qing

 

 

28_BR0572_328 Porcelain pillow with flower balls, bats, buddhist emblems & ‘100 antiques’, keyfret border, late Qing

 

 

29_BR0608_429 Blue ground vase with multiple borders, figures and flowers in cartouche and flower balls & sanduo fruits over the ground, late Qing

 

 

30_BR0895_230 ’One Hundred Antique’s vases including flower balls, turquoise interior and base, no mark

 

 

31_BR0741_331 Beautiful bright yellow ground narcissus trays with vases of flowers, fruit, vegetables and flower balls

 

 

32_BR0892_632 Platter with flower balls, ruyi border, central sanduo medallion, no mark

 

 

33_BR0926_133 Platter with ‘One Hundred Antiques’, flower balls, key fret and floral scroll border, no mark

 

 

34_BR0927_134 Lidded jar with ‘One Hundred Antiques’, flower balls, ruyi and key fret borders, no mark

 

 

‘TONGZHI’ MARKED, Late C19th-Early C20th

A relatively common group are the footed bowls and dishes of the late 19th century and early 20th century. Most have an interesting variety of stamped or handwritten Tongzhi marks, but other marks do occur – some may be of the period (Tongzhi), but most are probably late Guangxu to early Republic. In this group the subject matter of the balls becomes even more varied with grapes, stylised waves, bats & clouds, natural lotus flowers, gourds, pomegranates and all manner of intricacies – see how many new ones you can find!

On the other hand, some of the flower balls hark back to their early C19th predecessors. The quality and detail of the flower balls varies considerably, as does the variety of the borders:-

 

35_BR_MR48_033135

 

36_BR_MR57_038236

 

37_BR_MR61_040837

 

38_BR_MR65_043538

 

39_BR_MR82_055039

 

40_BR0017_640

 

41_BR0019_141

 

42_BR0033_142

 

43_BR0090_543

 

44_BR0120_644

 

45_BR0141_145

 

46_BR0168_246 See similar Guangxu celadon ground example below (next section)

 

47_BR0216_547

 

 

48_BR0232_548  See similar examples in terms of enamel colour, but with Jiangxi Ciye Gongsi marks, in sections below, Republic

 

49_BR0417_749  Rare and beautiful coral ground, ribbed lidded bowl and stand

 

50_BR0559_350

 

51_BR0684_251

 

52_BR0784_352

 

53_BR0846_253

 

54_BR0868_354

 

55_BR0893_455

 

56_BR0895_656

 

57_BR0896_257

 

58_BR0924_458

 

59_BR0937_159

 

60_BR0942_660

 

 

61_BR0795_361

 

62_BR0812_562

 

63_BR0853_463

 

64_BR0858_264

 

65_BR0902_165

 

 

 

GUANGXU  marked pieces: –

 

66_BR0368_366 This plate has an intricate geometric border and soft intricate flower balls, Guangxu mark and period

 

67_BR0213_767 Dragon medallion in centre of the plate, above, soft floral balls, phoenix balls, bats, insects. The background within the balls has a stippled pattern, which is very beautiful. Guangxu mark and period

 

68_BR0285_668 Celadon ground plate with underglaze blue mark, Guangxu Guan Yao (Guangxu Imperial kiln). Mixed lot of ‘flower balls’, including goldfish, cranes and spirals

 

69_Christies_105_0169 Christies, underglaze blue Guangxu mark & period, high level enamelling

 

70_Sothebys_5_0170 Sotheby’s large lidded box, Guangxu, but the mark “ground and barely visible”

 

71_Sothebys_33_0471 Sotheby’s, Guangxu mark and period dish

 

71a_Sothebys_58_0271a Sotheby’s, Guangxu mark and period, muddy yet bright enamels, may not be of the period IMO

 

72_Sothebys_78_0272 Sotheby’s, Guangxu mark and period, huge variety of birds in the flower balls

 

73_Sothebys_96_0373 The blue ground with gilt flower balls variation, also found on earlier examples back to at least Qianlong times, Guangxu mark & period, Sotheby’s

 

74_BR0029_674 Birdfeeders with Guangxu mark

 

 

LATE QING TO EARLY REPUBLIC examples:

 

 

75_BR0194_275 Beautiful yellow ground plate with a Qianlong seal mark

 

 

76_Sothebys_96_0576 Jar with underglaze blue and copper red flower balls, with sculpted qilong, ruyi , key fret and lappet borders, late C19th, Sotheby’s

 

 

Sgraffito ground examples:

 

 

77_BR_MR158_103577 This interesting set of cups and saucers has a sgraffito ground and ‘millefleur’ type flower balls. The cups have Jiangxi Ciye Gongsi (Jiangxi Porcelain Company) marks but the matching saucers have handwritten red Guangxu marks. Clearly made by the JPC, which affixed Guangxu marks as well! I have seen this doubling up on other patterns as well, 1910s/20s dating

 

78_BR_MR158_103778 See caption above

 

79_BR_MR159_103879 See caption above

 

80_BR_MR183_119580 Another example of this yellow sgraffito and millefleur type flower ball sub-pattern. This time with a ‘ Jiangxi Dong Hui Ci Pin’ mark, 1910/20s

 

81_Sothebys_61_0181 A vase with a Jurentang mark and this pattern subset, Sothebys, after 1916, so similar dating to the ones above

 

82_BR0747_282 This sgraffito variant has the more ‘normal’ range of flower balls, Jiangxi Ciye Gongsi mark, 1910s/20s

 

83_BR0300_283

 

84_BR0008_684 Lovely teabowl with all the bells and whistles, handwritten Guangxu mark within double underglaze blue circles, early C20th

 

85_BR_MR120_077185 This blue sgraffito teabowl even has a landscape ‘ball’, the only one I have seen so far! Handwritten Qianlong mark, Republic

 

86_BR_MR177_115686 Rare pink ground bowl, but the flower balls could be more detailed…Republic

 

87_BR0493_387 This blue ground sgraffito plate with flower balls is Republic period (as is the yellow one below). The colour of the blue ground and the nature of the flower ball decoration is different from the darker blue ground examples in the section above, which are dated to the mid-late Qing

 

88_BR_MR151_099588  Another yellow sgraffito pattern, but the yellow is lighter and brighter, has cartouche with flowers & butterflies, stamped Qianlong (in 2 rows rather 2 columns) mark plus ‘CHINA’, Republic period

 

 

More GUANGXU MARKS, distinct pattern:-

One of the most common flower ball combinations shows a combination of multi-coloured key fret border on a white ground with an array of brightly coloured balls. The quality varies quite a bit, and the Guangxu 6 character kaishu marks are either stamped, or are handwritten by a very unique and different calligraphic hand. I am not sure of the dating of these examples, but assume for now that the handwritten ones are mark & period, and the stamped ones are mostly Republic period. Stamped Qianlong ones are also Republic period or early PROC:

First lot: Guangxu, handwritten marks in a distinctive style (using a very thin brush line and somewhat elongated) – note also the use of a multi-coloured spoke basal border. Even more new elements inhabit the flower balls – goldfish, dragons, cranes, butterflies and narcissus flowers, good quality painting:-

 

 

89_BR_MR22_016089

 

90_BR_MR71_047290

 

91_BR_MR101_065091

 

92_BR_MR154_101292

 

Guangxu M&P93

 

93a_BR0248_493a

 

94_BR0283_594

 

95_BR0670_595

 

96_BR0923_196

 

 

…and a few more standard handwritten Guangxu marks, otherwise similar to those above. However, in some at least, the quality of decoration is not so good.

 

 

97_BR0028_197

 

98_BR0179_298

 

99_BR0179_399

 

100_BR_MR22_0161100

 

101_BR_MR52_0355101

 

102_BR0248_4102

 

103_BR0296_7103

 

104_BR0372_5104

 

105_BR0372_6105

 

106_BR0378_3106

 

107_BR0793_1107

 

108_BR0793_3108 This last one has a ruyi upper border, a lappet basal border, and a stippled background to the flower balls

 

 

REPUBLIC – Mid C20th

Stamped Guangxu and Qianlong marked examples from the Republic and early PROC, average quality in general, still quite delightful:-

 

109_BR_MR34_0249109

 

110_BR_MR36_0263110

 

111_BR_MR38_0271111

 

112_BR_MR38_0274a112

 

113_BR_MR38_0274c113

 

114_BR_MR38_0274d114

 

115_BR_MR47_0324115

 

116_BR_MR58_0388116

 

117_BR_MR172_1123117 Note the stippled background on the flower balls above, usually found on older examples, but adds an extra dimension to the pattern. Handwritten Qianlong mark

 

118_BR_MR172_1124118

 

119_BR0190_1119  Complete Tea Set with the flower ball pattern, Qianlong mark, late Republic/early PRC

 

120_BR0206_3120

 

121_BR0215_1121

 

122_BR0504_2122

 

 

 

123_BR0732_5123

 

124_BR0378_5124

 

125_BR0438_7125

 

126_BR0745_1126

 

127_BR0768_4127

 

128_BR0794_3128

 

129_BR0826_1129

 

130_BR0831_5130

 

131_BR0880_10131

 

132_BR0925_1132

 

 

Other marks, most are Republic period, some earliest PRC:-

 

133_BR_MR78_0520133  Late Qing/Republic little thick dish, handwritten ‘CHINA’ mark in black

 

134_BR0347_5134  Late Republic lidded mug with spoon or toothbrush holder, private company mark

 

135_BR0505_5135  Late Republic teapot, private company mark in a diamond outline

 

136_BR0882_1136  Late Republic, early 1950s oval platter with detailed flower balls and flower slips on a turquoise ground, private company circle mark

 

137_BR0753_2137  Mid C20th vase, ‘CHINA’ mark

 

138_BR0135_4138  Rare Cong vase with flower slips and some flower balls, mid C20th

 

139_BR0355_1139 Jiangxi / Min Zheng Xing / Chu Pin – “Jiangxi Province / Min Zheng Xing (name) / Products”. Nanchang. Second quarter of 20th c. before 1949. This mark was used by Mr. Min Zheng Xing – (name) in his porcelain shop in Nanchang, Jiangxi province. At this time the Wa Lee Factory was still in Nanchang. In 1947 the Wa Lee Factory moved to Canton “near the end of the Yi De Road” and in 1949 moved on to Hong Kong. Meanwhile Min Zheng Xing remained in Jiangxi. Around 1951 to 1952 Min Zheng Xing “who also was an accomplished porcelain painter” travelled to HK once, trying to sell his Nanchang factory porcelains. Mr. Kung “treated him and took him around, but with little success since the times were difficult in HK too”. (Source: Simon Ng interview w Mr Kung, HK 2001. www.gotheborg.com)  NOTE the gold outlines on all the flower balls

 

140_BR0772_3140  This dish and the one below have stamped ‘Jiangxi Ciye Gongsi’ marks. Quite unique, with these ‘ dirty ‘ colours. Nonetheless, authentic for a mid-Republic dating

 

141_BR_MR66_0439141  See caption above

 

142_BR0837_5142  Nanchang Xin Zhong Hua cup & saucer (the Jiangxi characters indicate an early 1950s dating; before 1949 ‘Nanchang’ characters were used rather than  ‘Jiangxi’ ones)

 

143_BR0937_7143  Jiujiang company set with rich turquoise ground, note scalloped edge on plate, Late Republic

 

There is also a subset of flower balls which are be-ribboned, and are accompanied by Chinese lions or even dragons. They are mentioned for completeness here, but I am only showing a few examples. This is a separate pattern as far as I am concerned.

 

144_BR0584_5144  Late Qing, yellow ground footed dish with Chinese lions and a be-ribboned flower ball, handwritten Tongzhi 5 character mark
145_BR0739_1145  Republic period yellow ground bowl with chinese lions and beribboned flower balls, multi-coloured key fret border, stamped Qianlong mark
146_DPExBR_028_3146  Republic period plate with dragon and flower balls, multi-coloured key fret border, stamped Guangxu mark

 

 

That’s all folks! Yet another Chinese porcelain pattern outlined for your convenience, all comments, corrections etc welcome,

Now you can scroll back to the beginning and see if you can date the individual flower balls…..

Michaela`

 

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2 thoughts on “‘Flower Balls’ on C19th and C20th Chinese porcelain (花球 Huā qiú)

  1. hi michaela, just wanted to say thank you for the research papers you created on flower balls from different time periods, as usual you are quite thorough.  I will read it with care when I have some more time, I have at least one pair of bottle vases famille juane with flower ball pattern and maybe another piece somewhere, I do like them. Hopy you and you family and hydrangeas are well.your friendjoe carazola

  2. Pingback: CHINESE REPUBLIC (1912-1949) and other MARKS OVERVIEW | watersilkdragon

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