Novice Needing Help Identifying Mark
by Lorena Hensley
(Rainbow City, Alabama, USA)
Wucai 5-Clawed Dragon & Phoenix
Wucai Mark Wanli?
First, I want to thank you for this site. I've learned more here in two days than the last month of researching the web.
Over the years I have collected many oriental items from estate sales and yard sales. I consider them my little treasures and try to research them just to have little stories for each. I mostly collect Nippon items, but, recently I have been drawn to other items for their unique looks and markings. Unfortunately, I'm lost in this new endeavour and seek your help.
I love going to estate sales and picking up pieces that someone loved and cherished in their lives and bringing them home to continue the tradition. This particular estate sale was one in which I was searching for special things for my granddaughters graduation. She is salutatorian of her high school and is going into pre-med studies.
The estate sale was for a woman doctor who graduated med school in 1955 and taught Med students in Japan in the 1960's (according to a family member of hers). Considering the era in which this amazing woman became a doctor, I know that she must have had quite a struggle and was incredibly strong. I don't know when or where the doctor got this piece, but I believe that she possibly bought it while she was in the orient.
From studying your site I believe I know what 5 of the 6 characters in the mark mean, but the top middle character evades me. From left to right and top to bottom this is what I see:
period, ?, great, make, Wanli, Ming
I'm sure that I am really chopping up
a beautiful language by putting it that way. For that, I truly apologize.
I have learned so much about this piece already. I've learned that it is Wucai, meaning 5 colors. It has a 5 clawed dragon, which apparently the number of claws are important.
I finally figured out that the bird on the vase would be considered a phoenix not a peacock, which is what I first thought of it as. But, there is so much more that I am not quite sure about.
I believe it would be considered a Beaker Vase, but, I have also seen the term Altar Vase used for a similarly shaped vase.
The terms "archaistic shape and zun shape" have also appeared for similar vases. I guess by now you realize just how much of a Novice I truly am.
I would like to know as much as possible about this piece so I can share the history of it with my granddaughter.
I bought several things for her to have in her home that belonged to this wonderful woman in order to give her strength and inspiration as she faces her own struggles to become a doctor. If you can tell me about when and where this piece was or may have been made would be wonderful.
Finding out who the artist is or was would be phenomenal. Any and all help is greatly appreciated. Graduation is only a couple weeks away, but, I don't want to push. Any information at this point would be great.
Thank you again for this wonderful site, as I have a few more pieces that I am keeping and will be researching soon.