June 26, 2014

One of a Kind Hand Made Chinese Buddhist Auspicious Double Fish Wind Chime

  Here's an interesting art object I found earlier this week.  Based on the fact that it hangs and has two Buddhist bells at the bottom, my only conclusion is that it's most likely a wind chime.   The overall look and appearance looks like Tibetan hand craft to me, however, the writing on the double fish as well as on the Buddhist bells is Chinese and I'm not sure at this point if that rules out the possibility of this artwork being Tibetan hand craft.

Hand Made Chinese Buddhust Auspicious Double Fish Wind Chime

The bodies of the double fish are made of leather, which are framed by vegetable dyed wood and/or seed based beads.   Both sides of the fish bodies are painted and have Chinese writing on them, which I haven't had translated yet.  One side is written in regular script, the other in symbols which appear to be akin to oracle bone script.   One one side, seen in the photo above, the double fish's bodies are painted pink and red, with bright green tails.  On the opposite side, shown in the photo below, the double fish have bright green bodies and bright red/pink tails.

Hand Made Chinese Buddhust Auspicious Double Fish Wind Chime

 I am doubtful that this "Buddhist" double fish "wind chime" is that old due to the colors used in the paint, however, according to a website called "Something Awful", neon colors were invented in the nineteenth century.   My best guess is that this piece is most likely late 20th century and is a one of a kind hand crafted item by a Chinese artisan, however, I know nothing whatsoever of its origins or who made it.

I'd love to know what the text says, so if anyone reading this post reads Chinese, I'd greatly appreciate your help.

Here's some close up, detail photos of the double fish:

Hand Made Chinese Buddhust Auspicious Double FishHand Made Chinese Buddhust Auspicious Double Fish

Hand Made Chinese Buddhust Auspicious Double Fish Hand Made Chinese Buddhust Auspicious Double Fish

It wasn't until I got home after purchasing this and looked at the bells with a magnifying glass that I noticed the Buddha and the inscriptions on the bell and it's unlikely I'll be able to get a translation for the inscription on the bell until I can provide better photographs of the Buddhist bells.

One of the bells, unfortunately, is now nothing more than a broken, jagged, Chinese puzzle since just now as I was writing this post, I began re-examining it again to get a feel for what type of metal it is in order to better describe it, and as I gently squeezed, it shattered into multiple fractured pieces, which rules out bronze or brass and confirms my assumption that the bells are made of cheap, crappy pot metal.   Neither of the two bells had a clapper.  Whether or not they originally had one, I do not know, but looking inside the remaining bell that's still intact, it appears very likely.

I'm very disappointed about the bell being broken and am not confident I will be able to piece it back together, so suppose I should begin looking for a replacement, preferably a pair.

Here's photos of the Chinese Buddhist bells that hang on the bottom of the double fish wind chime, along with my new Chinese puzzle. :(.

Chinese Buddhist bellChinese Buddhist bellChinese Buddhist bellChinese Buddhist bellChinese Buddhist bellChinese Buddhist bellChinese Buddhist bellChinese Buddhist bellChinese Buddhist bellBroken Chinese Buddhist bell puzzle

After discovering the Buddhist bells on the double fish "wind chime", I learned that the double fish symbol has some significance in Buddhism, as well as Chinese Feng Shui and folklore, however, in these, the double fish are golden, which is not the case for my double fish wind chime, so I'm a bit perplexed about this.

Insofar as double golden fish go, in Tibetan Buddhism, the golden double fish symbol is one of the Eight Auspicious Symbols.   

These have their origins in the two sacred rivers of India the Ganges and the Yamuna. Symbolically, these rivers signify the lunar and solar channels of the human body, originating in the nostrils and carrying the alternating rhythms of breath, or chi, also known as prana. So the golden fishes bring life and happiness. They represent fertility and abundance as they multiply rapidly. Fish often swim in pairs, and in China, a pair of fish signifies conjugal fidelity and unity.

Giving a pair of fish as a wedding present is regarded as very auspicious. This signifies a fervent wish for the couple to find happiness together and be blessed with many children. The Chinese word for fish yu also means great wealth, so material prosperity is also wished for the couple.

The fish used in the symbolism here is usually the carp, which is regarded as sacred to many Asian cultures because of its beauty, its size and its long lifespan. In India and Tibet, the golden carp is regarded as being exceptionally auspicious. Even in ancient Egypt, a pair of fish is regarded as a sacred icon as it symbolizes the life - bringing waters of the River Nile. Having fish in one’s home especially in pairs is thus very auspicious.

In general, The golden fish symbolizes the auspiciousness of all living beings in a state of fearlessness, without danger of drowning in the ocean of sufferings, and migrating from place to place freely and spontaneously, just as fish swim freely without fear through water.

The Symbolism of Double Fishes in Chinese Culture, and Feng Shui

In feng shui and for oriental traditions, the fish is a very symbolic creature which represents abundance and wealth. Having fishes in the kitchen is a great way of helping abundance and provisions to be always present in the house. Feng shui practitioners recommend having fishes and double fishes in the kitchen or the living room in order to make sure that those who inhabit the house will always have what they need.

Yu, which means fish, phonetically matches the word for abundance, which might be a coincidence but is very symbolic as well. It is very common to see objects representing fishes in many Chinese houses, most of the times in the kitchen but sometimes in the living rooms as well.

Fishes are abundant in the sea and provide us an unlimited source of nourishment and supplies. It is a natural source of human sustenance which can be found in abundant amounts. Therefore, they are an abundant creature itself and its symbolism might be highly due to this aspect of their nature.

Besides all what was mentioned above, a fish is also seen as a symbol of fertility. Fishes have notable abilities for reproduction which makes them an ideal icon for symbolizing fertility. They are always together and travel as a team which makes them also symbolize unity and marriage.

A fish is also a symbol of life renewal. This creature survives all times and époques and is always there for other beings to nurture from them. They are constantly renewing and giving birth to next generations, and this is seen by the oriental cultures as a great symbol of life preservation and regeneration. They show strength and are seen as representing a power for restoration and revival as well as rejuvenation and the power of continuation through time.

Double fishes represent unity, marriage and abundance not only in food provisions but also in children and family in general. Having double fishes in the living room or the room in which the family gathers to eat is a great way of assuring abundance in all aspects and for all the family members.

Fish in Buddhism:

In an article titled Wooden fish gongs and wind chimes: Symbols of Buddhist cultivation, author Chun Ock-bae states that "The origin of the use of the fish in Buddhism is unknown: one version tells that a fish always has its eyes open day and night; thus it is a reminder to always be aware."

Further on in the article, after discussing Moktak, he discusses fish wind chimes.

"Fish wind chimes are found on the eaves of Buddhist halls and pagodas. The wind rings the chimes, awakening the monks and nuns. Practitioners, like the fish who are always aware in the sea, practice to continuously cultivate themselves, even in their dreams. The wind in the chimes is likened to the condition of complete freedom from obstruction.

The fish adorning temples is not only a metaphysical symbol of tranquility and unrestricted freedom; it also a character in Buddhist fables. An example of this can be found in the Jatakas, the stories of the Buddha's previous lives as follows:

In one of his former lives, Sakyamuni Buddha followed bodhisattva practices while dwelling in the sea. There he witnessed a large fish preying on smaller ones, which in turn, did the same with still smaller ones. So Sakyamuni caught and ate the biggest fish, sparing the life of the small fish. This Sakyamuni's soul was transformed into the king of the ``makaras'' (a mythical animal with the trunk of an elephant, the front legs of a lion, and the body of a crocodile) with a massive body measuring several ``li'' (a distance of about 400 meters). At that time, famine had struck the land by the sea and people were turning to cannibalism. A huge makara, Sakyamuni beached himself on the shore and offered himself up as food, thereby saving the people from starvation."

Whether or not if any of the above is applicable to the double fish wind chime I have, I am not sure, but it is interesting to learn about nonetheless since I find these sorts of things enlightening, fascinating, and interesting.

If anyone reading this could tell me more about my double fish wind chime, or help with translation, etc, feel free to comment below.

Thank you.

June 23, 2014

Antique Chinese Carved Stone Buddha Head Statue, Or Not?

Antique Chinese Carved Stone Budda Head Statue
Not only do I collect Buddhist statues, figurines and other Buddhist relics, etc, but I also happen to also be Buddhist, although I do also follow the philosophies of Confucianism and Taoism as well, however, for the most part, I consider myself a secular Buddhist, although I do regularly chant many mantra while meditating, such as om mani padme hum, and nam myoho renge kyo, etc..   I have only been on this path actively and seriously for the last 16 months now, however, did previously consider and question Buddhism, so I am still learning more and more each day and haven't yet decided on any specific tradition, sect, etc although I am leaning more towards those of Mahayana traditions even though Esoteric and other schools are appealing.  I find various aspects of many forms of Buddhism fascinating, therefore, have not been able to settle for just one single form.  I initially began exploring Soto Zen, but shortly thereafter progressed to Mahayana.

.   For the past year now I have been wanting a carved stone Buddha head, but could not find any locally.    Certainly there's an abundance of them available online, yet they tend to be pricey, and often I get the feeling that the seller or dealer is making very deceptive claims in order to inflate their selling price.   I for some reason chose not to buy one online, something I rarely do anyway, because I would much rather see the item in person when making a purchase.

So, yesterday afternoon I went out on a treasure hunt and visited some antique shops to see what I could find, and among the few items I purchased was this carved stone Buddha head statue, however, can I assume it's an antique just because it came from an antiques store?  Afterall, the dealer had no freaking clue, as usual, how old it was, nor anything else specific about it, other than "it's Chinese"... and considering the fact that he had about a half dozen of them, all of them very similar to each other,  perhaps maybe they're not really that old.   I honestly don't know.

Antique Chinese Carved Stone Budda Head StatueAntique Chinese Carved Stone Budda Head Statue

Antique Chinese Carved Stone Budda Head StatueAntique Chinese Carved Stone Budda Head Statue

Antique Chinese Carved Stone Budda Head Statue

The carved stone Buddha head stature is 5 1/2" high and weighs a few pounds.  I don't know the exact weight since I do not have a scale, but it feels like at least a few pounds, maybe up to 5;bs, but that's just a guess.

  So, wanting to know the going price for these carved stone Buddha head statues and trying to figure out how old my carved stone Buddha head might be, I began looking around, because I'm very curious by nature, I love learning, and need to know as much as I can about each and every piece in my collection.

I was shocked to see one very similar to mine on eBay with a buy it now of $799, and it's nearly identical to the one I have.   The seller says it is made of Chinese Schist stone, a mixture of quartz and gray stone.  Whether he is correct or not, I have no idea, but I'm curious to know whether or not mine is also Schist stone, and if not, what kind of stone is it?.    On this particular listing for the carved stone Buddha head, the seller claims it is 18th century Qing dynasty and claims it is from 1750s to early 1800s.. and then he claims it is an "uncommon piece",  yet, if uncommon, why did I find at least 6 nearly identical ones in a single store, and then there's another nearly identical one from in eBayer located in China, claiming it to be "old" and selling for $129, and then there's a US based eBayer who has sold multiple carved stone Buddha heads, and has a currently active listing for another one at $39.49 with free shipping, and it's listed as being "new".

  So, the question is, is my carved stone Buddha head an antique or not?  Come to think of it, is it actually carved, or is it possible to be cast from mold using some form of liquid stone mix that hardens much like how concrete works?  How exactly does one even determine the age and or period of carved stone anyway?  I have no idea, nor do I particularly care, well I do, sort of, but the most important thing for me was to have a stone Buddha head, regardless of how old it is, and that's what matters to me....  but I'd still like to know if it's an antique or not, because if it is, I'd possibly consider buying the other 5 for resale considering the prices some of them are listed for, or even to use as trading for other antiques, etc... but more important than that is to document its age and value etc for my future estate since everything I own will be left to my daughter.

Here's the carved stone Buddha heads on eBay that I refer to in this post:
Antique Chinese Carved Stone Budda Head Statue Antique Chinese Carved Stone Budda Head StatueChinese Carved Stone Buddha Head

June 20, 2014

Hand Crafted Ceramics Made in Vietnam - Painted Mud Vase

Hand Crafted Ceramics Made in Vietnam - Painted Mud Vase
 I was visiting one of my frequent treasure hunting spots today not only to browse for new Asian art and antiques to add to my collection, but for some studio pottery as well since I have recently began collecting it.

 Since I was now shopping for studio pottery, or hand crafted ceramics in addition to Asian art and antiques, I decided to pick up this pink, green and brown, earth tones vase off the shelf at the thrift store.  This vase isn't something I would have normally considered for purchase, nor for adding to my Asian ceramics collection, however, due to that I was now seeking out studio pottery pieces, I decided to check it out.

Hand Crafted Ceramics Made in Vietnam

 The vase is coarse and rather crude, as if it was made out mud, hardened and then painted.  It has a coarse, gritty, sandy feel to it.
Hand Crafted Ceramics Made in Vietnam
 It's certainly not a quality piece, but the fact that it had a sticker on the bottom that reads "Hand Crafted Ceramics Made in Vietnam", I decided "why not", after all, it was priced right, for a whopping 50 cents,  and so I purchased it even though I was fully aware that it was not an antique since it had an additional sticker on it with a bar code, although I could not read it due to the small print because I forgot have my eyeglasses which I really need for reading.   As crude and poor quality it is, I decided that I want it simply because it's made in Vietnam.

As I usually do when acquiring new pieces of art or antiques for my collection, I began reviewing the vase with a magnifying glass, to see if it had any kind of signature or maker's markings, etc and that's when I read the additional sticker and saw that the vase was a Dollar-Tree item, which means the vase is 100% definitely made after 1993 up until who knows, maybe even 2013, lol..., so it's not antique, although perhaps some might call it art.

I say "maybe even 2013", because when I did a Google search for "Hand Crafted Ceramics Made in Vietnam", I found an eBay listing for this very same vase, albeit with some subtle differences since it's hand crafted, and it was first listed by the seller in October 2013.   I then I found an additional listing for the same crude vase while browsing the eBay listings for Vietnamese ceramics, again with some minor differences, however, both of these sellers are out of their freaking minds for charging those prices for a modern piece found at a dollar store.  One is asking for approx. $19 + approx $10 shipping, and the other is asking for approx $15.

Here's the two nearly identical Hand Crafted Ceramics Made in Vietnam vases I found listed on eBay

Hand Crafted Ceramics Made in VietnamHand Crafted Ceramics Made in Vietnam
The one on the left does not have the "Hand Crafted Ceramics Made in Vietnam" sticker, but the one on the right does.   Neither of them have the Dollar Tree UPC Barcode sticker.  Mine did, however, I removed it, curious to see if a mark was hidden beneath it.

For reference, here is a photo of a different Handcrafted Ceramics Made in Vietnam vase on eBay that has a Dollar Tree sticker, but unlike the above two sellers, his asking price is only 99cents plus shipping.

Hand Crafted Ceramics Made in Vietnam - Dollar Tree

June 13, 2014

Meiji Period Japanese Kutani Porcelain Shoza Style Tea Set Marked Kutani Zo 九谷ぞ

Meiji period, circa 1880 - 1890 Japanese Kutani, Shoza style porcelain tea set, maker marked Kutani Zo 九谷ぞ, ( Made in Kutani )

Japanese Kutani porcelain tea set, marked Kutani Zo 九谷ぞ

Japanese Kutani porcelain tea set, marked Kutani Zo 九谷ぞ

Japanese Kutani porcelain tea set, marked Kutani Zo 九谷ぞ

Kutani Zo 九谷ぞ

Kutani Zo 九谷ぞ

Kutani Zo 九谷ぞ

Japanese Kutani porcelain tea set, marked Kutani Zo 九谷ぞ
Japanese Kutani porcelain tea set, marked Kutani Zo 九谷ぞ

pp 23 est?

June 12, 2014

Meiji Period Japanese Porcelain Kyoto Satsuma Moriage / 明治時代、日本の磁器京都さつま

I found another Meiji period Japanese porcelain Kyoto Satsuma moriage marked さつま.   This piece nearly matches another I have in my collection, posted here.  Circa 1868 - 1890.

Kyoto Satsuma is the common name for Satsuma style porcelain which were predominately made in Awata, Kyoto, Yokohama and Tokyo during the Meiji period.  Moriage is the style of decoration using raised enamel.

Meiji Period Japanese Porcelain Kyoto Satsuma Moriage / 明治時代、日本の磁器京都さつま

Meiji Period Japanese Porcelain Kyoto Satsuma Moriage / 明治時代、日本の磁器京都さつま

Meiji Period Japanese Porcelain Kyoto Satsuma Moriage / 明治時代、日本の磁器京都さつま

Meiji Period Japanese Porcelain Kyoto Satsuma Moriage / 明治時代、日本の磁器京都さつま

Meiji Period Japanese Porcelain Kyoto Satsuma Moriage / 明治時代、日本の磁器京都さつま

Meiji Period Japanese Porcelain Kyoto Satsuma Moriage / 明治時代、日本の磁器京都さつま

Meiji Period Japanese Porcelain Kyoto Satsuma Moriage / 明治時代、日本の磁器京都さつま

pp6 est?