Look underneath Ming and Qing dynasty ceramics, and you’ll often find a reign mark or another kind of mark on the base (Chinese: 底款 dikuan – base-mark). Sometimes these are presented in a way that references Chinese coin designs – some base-marks look like coins: some have a square mark in the middle of a round base (like the hole in a coin?), and/or two concentric circles (like the outer rim of a coin?). Some even have an inscription arranged top-bottom-right-left as on coins, although this is sometimes a good luck inscription, as found on coin-shaped charms. Chinese coins had reign periods as part of the inscription several centuries earlier than the Ming dynasty, but when do Chinese coin-shaped base-marks first start to appear on ceramics? Which came first – the reign-period base-mark or the Chinese coin-inspired base-mark? What is the earliest evidence of a Chinese coin-inspired base-mark?
Blue and white ‘coin’ dish, 17th century (Sotheby’s, New York, 19-20 March 2013)
Chinese coins were used decoratively and symbolically at least as early as the Han dynasty. And coin-designs featured on the body of Chinese ceramics long before the Ming dynasty, as in the Song dynasty vase below.
I came across “The Millenium Medal” by Marian Fountain last week. I’ve known her name and some of her work for a long time, but had never seen this medal before. Intrigued by the way it references East Asian coins, I asked if she’d tell us more about it. I’m very grateful to Marian for writing this post, and for sharing these images with us, and also to Dr Alexander Chang for agreeing to share his response to the medal. (more…)
Over the summer there was an exhibition of paintings “Transitions: Dong Yuan, Lam Tung-pang and Lao Tongli” （转变：董媛，林东鹏, 劳同丽）at Chambers Fine Art (前波画廊) in New York (22 June – 2 Sept 2017). (more…)
In his oil paintings of young children, Chinese artist Li Zijian 李自健 often shows them wearing a silver lock (baijiasuo 百家锁) around the neck. The locks are for protection, to lock the child into life. For examples of real silver locks, see Pinterest or Primaltrek. (more…)
Chinese artist Sheng Qi 盛奇 currently has his first solo show at the GX Gallery in London. Many thanks to Joe Cribb for drawing this to our attention and sending the four photos below! (more…)