Sunday, July 21, 2019

Whimsical Whistles from Long Ago

This post will be going slightly off topic as I will be showing objects which are neither jade nor beads. Instead I will show my 3 antique  ceramic whistles from around the Song - Yuan dynasty or later.  But since whistles like beads are tiny and have pierced holes I somehow see a connection.😊

Antique porcelain whistles are one of the tiniest artefacts made by Chinese potters. I don't really know what function they serve in the old days but it has been speculated that whistles are toys (for children ?) Another research paper has put up a theory that they are possibly musical  instruments giving out wonderful notes.  So far I have not the nerve to  test them with my mouth.😋

My 3 whistles were made in the Cizhou kilns of Hebei, China. This kiln mostly catered to the needs of common people  and Cizhou porcelain was typical of folk wares of this period.

Now to show the pictures of the 3 diminutive figurine whistles. The 2 smaller whistles are only 4.5 cm high while the bigger one measures 6 cm. 

3 ceramic whistles from  Cizhou kilns

This pair looks like a pair of twins. They have a dignified air and  I cant make out whether they are boys or men. Also seem to be bearing some object in their hands.

Are they twins?

Although the bigger whistle has lost its glaze some details can still be gleaned. The figurine has a  benevolent smile and mien with hands  clasped round a bag with handle

Figurine has a benevolent smile
Showing the back of the  2 smaller whistles

Holes on top and at the back
The bigger whistle unfortunately  is partially broken at the back

Partial damage to the back

And here's a modern whistle from granddaughter Sophie, borrowed for comparison.

Modern 2018 child's whistle
Whistles from 10th-to 21st century.

The old with the new

* Please refer to Freer and Sackler Museum website for more examples of whistles from Cizhou kilns.

Monday, July 1, 2019

Kneeling Jade Figurine

Today I'd like to share a kneeling jade figurine with tall well shaped hat. I am not sure what period he belongs to but as there are many kneeling jade figurines from Shang dynasty (1700BC-1027BC) to the Han dynasty (206BC-220AD)  I would place him tentatively around this timeline plus or minus (excuse me if I'm wrong)😎

jade man in a respectful pose
 He is carved in a kneeling position with both hands placed neatly on his lap and cuts a dignified, respectful pose, The little figurine measures only 6cm

Measures 6cm tall

I am most struck by the beauty of the outstanding hat which must be indicative of some importance so it is likely that he is an official or emissary rather than a servant.

The front of the hat is well carved and it slants slightly backwards. It has 4 vertical grooves  displaying a fine mesh of delicate toolmarks  which can be seen on close inspection. The back is flat, straight and undecorated.

the front with vertical grooves and the back flat and uncarved.

The hat is also hollowed out with openings on both sides. If you peer through the cavity you can see toolmarks left behind by long ago jade artisans.

toolmarks are visible through the hat's cavity.
Each ear is decorated with a cloud scroll  motif. Such motifs are common in Spring and Autumn and Warring States period. (1046-256BC)

ears with cloud scroll  motifs

The side profile is reminiscent of the famous jade figurine with key excavated from Fu Hao's tomb Shang dynasty (1700-1027BC)except that this one does not have a key. Instead it has a tall hat.

Side profile

Finally, here is  a front and back view of this little figurine from the past.

showing the front and back view

Sunday, February 3, 2019

Welcome to Lunar New Year of the Pig 2019

Although Pigs are not one of my favourite collectibles, nevertheless I will still uphold the good ole lunar new year tradition and dig up some odds and ends to celebrate Pig Year 2019

To my surprise I found quite a few, 12 to be exact of pigs made from jade, agate, glass and pottery. Their vintage range from ancient time to present day. Of the 12 pigs below 11 are from Chinese culture with one odd one out,. Can anyone guess which one?😊

12 little piggies

I will describe and enlarge each pig in detail. Starting with the oldest first, below is the little piggie from Xizhou dynasty (1046-771BC) see related link

2cm x 1cm
Next in order of age are 4 pigs made from jade and agate shown below maybe from China's Han dynasty (206BC -220AD) as they exhibit the characteristics and carving styles of Han dynasty pigs. The Han pigs are long and lank carved with the Han ba-dao (8 cut) style. The top two pigs are carved from jade and bottom  two are made from agate. The bottom two are also beads as the have perforations.

Han dynasty pigs made from jade and agate

A pottery pig from Tang dynasty (618-906AD) is shown in following picture.

Pottery pig from Tang dynasty

5 modern day pigs made from jade, glass and crystal  shown below

These 5 are from the 20th century

And so .... reader you guessed it the odd one out is the agate little pig from Myanmar's Pyu Dynasty (around 2nd century BC -11th century AD)

Snout nose pig from Pyu dynasty

The ancient piggies are a bit sombre coloured and so to add de rigueur festive color to this post are 3 little pinkie piggy ang pows.

Happy Lunar New Year of the Pig 2019

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

Some of my favourite things

Some of my favourite things....

Purple turtle on golden sand
Wee bird soars high on fragile wings
And a cool cicada that sweetly sings....

my favourite things

...these are some of my favourite beady things that I'd like to share during this season.

All three creatures are beads and have perforations for stringing. They may date as far back as the Pyu dynasty (around 2nd century BC to 11th century AD) and comes from Myanmar.  Here's a closer look at each of them starting from the amethyst  turtle.

Very tiny turtle measures 2 cm in length

Next is the rose quartz bird 

Height of rose quartz bird 1.5cm

Last the cool cicada is also made from rose quartz

Height of cicada 2cm

And to wish beaders and collectors all over the world a Merry Christmas and Beadiful New Year, I have decorated pine cones with assorted beads and topped them with one ancient jade (rein)Deer.

Happy  Jade Collecting and Beading Season

Little green deer from Xizhou dynasty or later sends greetings

Friday, October 5, 2018


This attractive dark green beads' necklace is another junk store purchase. It has a large central bead with 36 smaller  beads

Necklace of dark green beads and a larger central  bead

At a glance the dark green beads resemble jade but are actually made of glass.

Not jade looks more like glass

Could this be a 1920s necklace ? Because the glass, on examination is not so well made and the bead ends show a whitish powdery substance, it may well be modern.  Nevertheless it does look rather attractive at a glance.

Could be modern beads

The large focal bead is different from the other beads and has a perforation on the underside. I wonder what is the purpose of this perforation which does not go through the entire bead. As can be seen from the enlargement the green glaze is also flaking off

a perforation in the largest bead.

Nevertheless it sits well on my old celadon vase.

Green bead necklace on old celadon vase.

Wednesday, May 23, 2018

A set of Small Jade Ornaments from the Liangzhu Culture 3300-2300BC

A set of ancient jade ornaments  comprising 10 tubular jade beads strung with turquoise beads, a small slit ring (jue), a small disc (bi)and a small huang. All purchased in Hangzhou and purportedly from the Liangzhu Culture (3300-2300 BC) The stone, patina, and shape of the items do resemble Liangzhu artefacts so there is a good chance that these are of the period. Also Hangzhou is the site of Liangzhu culture makes the possibility more likely.

Set of ancient jade ornaments

The ten tubular beads are interspersed with turquoise beads which may not be from the same timeline.

Ten tubular beads with turquoise beads

According to research the slit ring or jue (2.3cm)  on left is an ear ornament and are often strung with the bi disc (2cm) on right and huang below

Slit ring (jue) and small bi (disc)

The small arch shaped huang measures 5cm and must have been part of a longer necklace. Each end of the huang is drilled with a hole and a groove.

Jade huang with hole and groove at both ends

The hole and groove at both ends may represent they eyes and mouths of a dragon. Later versions of  jade huangs have dragon carvings at both ends so this may be an early version. This is entirely my own conjecture.

Looks like an eye and a mouth

Unlike large ceremonial ritualistic objects  of the Neolithic period, these ornaments are small and minimalist but have a life of their own  If these beads and ornaments were exhibited in a museum, would they be arranged as below ?

Museum display

I don't have enough beads and ornaments to string into an elaborate strand but still managed to make quite a decent one. :)😊

Strung as a strand

Thursday, April 19, 2018

4 Ancient Jade Plaques with Line Carving

Here are 4 jade plaques or pendants that had me intrigued

Mottled olive green jade infused with cloudy patina

The jade is a light olive green, infused with cloudy white patina which does not corrode the jade. Instead oddly it seems to enhance it. With white  patina blooming all over them I cannot help but guess they are ancient pieces but I cannot really identify the exact period or which Chinese cultural group they belong to.

Which dynasty and which Chinese cultural group?

Round shaped and measuring 3 cm  diameter, each plaque has  3 small holes drilled near the edge . Each piece has a carving of  mythical  animal on one side. The line carvings retain traces of cinnabar.  Not sure if these red lines are the remains of cinnabar or some dealer just outlined it in red to make the drawings stand out. I have soaked the pieces in soapy water and the red lines have not disappeared. The reverse side is plain.

No Carvings on the back

To show  a better view I have lined up the following enlargements



Snake wrapped round a turtle


To add to the mystery each plaque is also very thin. What tools were used to carve these mythological animals without damaging the delicate jade. Or are these jade of younger vintage, although patina says otherwise. Another possibility,  were drawings newly added using modern tools ?

Finally, were they used as pendants, or worn as belts, strung as chatelaines or hung as part of a veil ??

Whatever, their history or vintage, I would still find them attractive and collectible.

Very collectible !

Monday, February 12, 2018

Lunar New Year of the Dog 2018

To usher in Year of the Dog 2018 I have assembled 9 Doggies from my collection. Here are the first 3 which hail from different periods of Chinese culture or history  bearing auspicious greetings on them.

 pottery dogs with auspicious greetings

Spotted dog on the right from Cizhou kilns of Song dynasty (960-1279 AD)  In the centre dog with black nose likely from 19th century  and brown dog on left may date as far back as Chinese prehistory.

More doggie themes on snuff bottles  and one carved from rock crystal shown below. Strictly speaking these three are not mine but borrowed from Heng.

More doggie themes  for Year if the Dog

I could not find a single bead with dog motif  but manage to unearth 2 jade pendants with carvings of dogs

White jade pendants with dog carving.

Little Sophie my granddaughter has loaned me her gold hair toy dog to wish blog reader's good health and peace for CNY 2018

Gold Hair toy dog welcomes Year of the Dog 2018

And here is little Sophie's version of Welcome to  Spring (Chun Jie)

Sophie's Song of Spring

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  • Theft : a love story
  • The Uncommon Reader
  • The Silent Patient
  • Never Let me go
  • Angela's Angels
  • Where angels fear to tread