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Ask MOA: What Is This Vase?

Ask MOA: What Is It? is your opportunity to ask MOA Curators and Collections staff about an artwork or other mystery object at home that you’ve always wondered about. We select certain inquiries and objects to feature online.

This featured Ask MOA case is about an ornate porcelain vase found at an estate sale.

Question from inquirer:

“What information can you provide about this vase that I bought from an estate sale?”

Answer from Fuyubi Nakamura:

A seal/mark of six Chinese characters at the bottom of the vase in seal script reads Da Qing Qianlong Nian Zhi (大清乾隆年制; “Great Qing, Qianlong Period Made”) as marks on Chinese porcelain pieces commonly display the dynasty and the reign. However, most of them are not from the actual period. Later porcelains often have such a reign mark as part of the decoration and this particular six-character reign mark was especially common on porcelain made in the 1960s and 1970s. Your vase is most likely from the mid- to late-20th century, judging by the style and how the mark is done. I don’t think it is an antique from earlier periods.

No information about the artist’s name can be found in the inscription, nor in the seal. The seal on the side of the vase simply reads “Seal,” a common practice on the condition of a preceding signature in the inscription. Since there is no signature, it is unusual to apply a random seal like this. A part of the inscription reads, “painted in Zhushan” (i.e., Jingdezhen), so could be a Jingdezhen ware.

You can contact a professional appraiser if you’re interested in having it appraised or authenticated. Visit the International Society of Appraisers Canadian Chapter website for more information.

If you bought this vase because you like its look, please enjoy it!