July 29, 2014

Chinese Calligraphy Mei Fu 美孚 Scroll by Zuo Tai-Hang 左 太行 1987

I visited a local thrift store yesterday and while browsing around I found this Chinese calligraphy mounted on a scroll..

When I purchased it I had no idea what it said, so I asked my Facebook friend Hung Yueh Hsu from Taiwan for his help and he translated it for me.

The central large characters are 美孚, Mei Fu, which is Mobil, the oil & gas corporation.  To the left, is 丁卯春香港美孚 敬贈,  which translates as "In spring 1987, A gift of Hong Kong Mobil, and it is sealed with the signature seal of Zuo Tai-Hang ( or Zuo Tai-Xing).  On the back is affixed a paper label that's signed by the artist 左 太行 ,書法 Zuo Tai-Hang calligraphy.   I'm not sure if it's supposed to be Tai-Hang or Taihang.  Presumably, this scroll was presented as gift to a United States based Mobil Corporation executive while visiting the Hong Kong Mobil headquarters.

Chinese Calligraphy Mei Fu, scroll, 美孚by Zuo Taihang 左 太行 1987Chinese Calligraphy Mei Fu, 美孚by Zuo Taihang 左 太行 1987

seal of Zuo Taihang丁卯春 香港美孚 敬贈

左 太行 ,書法 Zuo Tai-Hang calligraphy左 太行 Zuo Tai Hang

At the time of this posting, the only information I have been able to find thus far on Zuo Taihang is that
Zuo Tai Hang was born in 1948 in Hebei Hirayama, China,  in 1968 he worked in Mongolia,    In 1975 Mr Taihang graduated from the Beijing Iron and Steel Institute and then went on to work for the Capital Iron and Steel Plant, 1

Since 1980,  he has worked for the Beijing Economic Commission, the State Economic Commission and the National Reform Committee. He is a member of the Chinese Calligraphers Association.

July 25, 2014

Why is There a Hole Instead of a Hand? The Mystery of Kwan Yin's Missing Hand.

As a Mahāyāna Buddhist, I have a particular fondness for Guanshiyin, the Buddhist Goddess of Compassion & Mercy, aka Guanyin, Kwan Yin, etc.   Consequently, when I'm out shopping or browsing online auctions sites, one of the items I often look for are porcelain Kwan Yin statues, and nearly every single time I have found one in a shop, it was missing a hand, and instead of a hand, there was a hole where Kwan Yin's hand should be.  Even online I have seen a few where Guanyin has a missing hand.

At the time, this perplexed me and I incorrectly assumed that the statue was broken, therefore did not purchase it.  In retrospect, perhaps I should have bought it anyway, and so today I ended up buying a porcelain Kwan Yin statue with a missing hand..

I visited a local auction today and among the items I purchased was this white porcelain Kwan Yin statue, painted with gold gilt decoration and it is for this reason that I am writing this post, because the porcelain Kwan Yin statue is missing a hand, unlike the new ceramic Kwan Yin statue I purchased last week from a local Chinese gift shop, and although that one does not have a missing hand, it is detachable, so I wondered why does Kwan Yin's hand come off like that.

White Porcelain Gold Gilt Decorated Kwan Yin Statue with Missing HandModern Chinese Ceramic Kwan Yin Statue with Detachable Hand

I did a little bit of research and learned, according to Chinese tradition, Kwan Yin will literally "lend a hand" to those in dire need, which is why the statue's hand is removable. .In another version,  the owner of the statue would pray to Kwan Yin and make a request for healing, etc and would then carry Kwan Yin's hand until the prayer is granted and then return the hand back to the Goddess of Compassion.    In yet another version, Kwan Yin's hand is removed and hidden somewhere in the home and as long as Kwan Yin looked for her hand there would be good luck in the home, so clearly it's not unusual to see a porcelain Kwan Yin statue with a missing hand.

In an excerpt from Discovering Kwan Yin, Buddhist Goddess of Compassion By Sandy Boucher, the author states the following:

Kwan Yin Statue Detachable Hand RemovedSome of the small white ceramic statues of the white robed Kwan Yin have a detachable hand that can be pulled out of the sleeve of her robe.        
     The belief is that when you want something, you petition Kwan Yin.  Then you take the small white hand and hide it somewhere in your house. Kwan Yin, presumably, is so distressed at losing her hand that she will grant you your wish.  Then when your desire has been granted, you find the little hand and replace it on the statue.

Porcelain Kwan Yin Statue Base & Makers Mark of Crown & Sword
Personally, I'd much rather my own porcelain Guanyin statues did not have a missing hand.

Regardless of the fact that my newly purchased ceramic Kwan Yin statue is missing a hand, I like it very much, however, I am perplexed by the maker's mark since it is not one I am familiar with and I am very doubtful that it belongs to a Chinese maker or artist since I have never seen a Chinese maker's mark that has a crown.  Perhaps it is Japanese since there are many Japanese porcelain marks that contain a crown.

If this is Japanese made, then it would more appropriately be a ceramic statue of Kannon or Kanzeon since that is the Japanese name for Kwan Yin.

 If anyone reading this post is familiar with this crown and sword maker's mark on my statue, please let me know.

Thank you.

July 24, 2014

Satsuma Style Japanese Porcelain Mini Vases Made in Occupied Japan 1945 -1952

I just got this pair of Japanese porcelain Satsuma style mini vases made in Occupied Japan at a second hand resale shop.

 This type of Satsuma style mini vases are very common, and they're not valuable, so when I saw the $20 price tag I declined to purchase them until several days later when I got an email informing me that the dealer was having a half off sale, so I went there as soon as I could hoping they still had them.

Fortunately for me they did.   I like Geisha and women in traditional Japanese Kimono, so like these Satsuma style mini vases very much and think they make a great addition to my Japanese porcelain collection.

Satsuma Style Japanese Porcelain Mini Vases Made in Occupied Japan 1945 -1952

July 18, 2014

Vintage Miao Hmong Hill Tribe Northern Thailand Textile Fabric 苗族

Over the last week I have been clearing out my closets and going through various boxes of stuff to list items on eBay so I can get rid of the things I no longer have interest in, need, have a use for or just don't want, and then I can use the extra cash to buy something I do want,  such as more Asian art or antiques, etc.

  So, here I was yesterday afternoon going through an old box of stuff when I pulled out this old textile fabric that I have had for the last 16 months, yet I had no clue whatsoever what it was until yesterday.  It used to belong to my next door neighbor who left it outside with a box of other stuff after she finished having a yard sale, and since she was giving it away for free, I decided to take it home since I had an interest in making things with my sewing machine.  

I was contemplating on whether or not it was an item that would be of interest to anyone on eBay, so I began using Google to research and try to identify it, and well, it's just my stroke of luck that it happens to be a textiles fabric hand made by the Hmong people, an Asian ethnic group from the mountainous regions of China, Vietnam, Laos, and Thailand.  Hmong are a subgroup of Miao 苗族..   Maybe it was my intuition, but I'm happy I decided to take it home even though at the time I had no idea that it was Asian

Hmong Miao Hill Tribe Northern Thailand Textile FabricHmong Miao Hill Tribe Northern Thailand Textile Fabric

Hmong Miao Hill Tribe Northern Thailand Textile FabricHmong Miao Hill Tribe Northern Thailand Textile Fabric

While I can't accurately ascertain which country this fabric originated, nor can I even date it, looking around and reading about Hmong textiles, it appears likely that it's from the Northern Thailand Hmong, which are often referred to as the Hill Tribe. So, since I identified it as Asian in origin and having read quite a bit online about Hmong people, I have decided that I should keep it as part of my collection of Asian art, and now instead of keeping it in a box, it is proudly displayed as a wall hanging. :)

You can read about the Hmong people on Wikipedia.  I find this very interesting and fascinating.  It's always a great learning experience to discover and learn about different cultures and people.

July 16, 2014

Chinese Qing Dynasty Brass Coins

I recently sold a book on eBay and since I had some extra cash in my PayPal account I decided to use those funds to go shopping on eBay.   Among the items I purchased were these Chinese brass coins of the Qing Dynasty, however, they are not genuine Qing Dynasty coins, but copies, or commemorative coins.  Some would call them "fakes", however, the listing made no claims of them being genuine and listed them as being "Archaize" which basically is a way of saying "imitation of ancient" so since they were not being sold as genuine ancient Chinese coins, they're not fakes since there was no deception involved, and besides, my total cost was only $1.34 with free shipping and I really like them.   I just think they're cool. :)

Surely there's no collector value in them, but they're very nice objects that are well made and offered some real educational value since I began looking up information about old Chinese coins to learn more about them.

One of the websites I enjoy reading is Ancient Chinese Charms and Coins, which I find very interesting, even fascinating, and now I have an increased interest in old Chinese coins, so hope to someday have genuine ancient Chinese coins in my collection.   . 

Chinese Qing Dyasty Brass Coins

The three coins are, from left to right, kang xi tong bao (康熙通宝) , qian long tong bao (乾隆通宝). & yong zheng tong bao (雍正通宝)

Chinese Qing Dyasty Brass Coins
Here's the reverse side of these Chinese brass coins, which is different than what's found on actual genuine Chinese coins, which are typically made out of bronze, not brass

July 9, 2014

Japanese Kutani Sake Bottle - 九谷 酒瓶

 I just got this Japanese sake bottle today.  It is Kutani and has calligraphy on it, presumably also signed by the artist, however, I have not been able to translate it, nor can I make out the hanko seal, so have no idea who the artist is or if the calligraphy contains a date or not.   My best guess is that this Kutani sake bottle is mid to 3rd quarter 20th century made... 1950s to 1970s, but it could be newer than that, unlikely older.

I know the bottom character is san/yama , but I'm not sure what the first kanji is, however, I was informed by a third party that the seal looks like it reads 高山, Takayama.   I haven't been able to narrow this down to any specific artist, however, there is a city in Japan named Takayama which has several sake breweries, so perhaps this sake bottle was made by/for them, or as a product to be sold in tourist shops in Takayama, Japan.   I'm having difficulty figuring this one out, so if you know, I'd greatly appreciate your help.

Kutani Sake Bottle - 九谷 酒瓶

Kutani Sake Bottle - 九谷 酒瓶Kutani Sake Bottle - 九谷 酒瓶
Kutani markKutani Sake Bottle - 九谷 酒瓶