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Qianlong Ginger Jar

by Chris
(Brisbane, Queensland, Australia)

I purchased this item at the state owned Shanghai Arts and Crafts centre in 1988 for several hundred dollars. They had a small "special" area for "antiques". I had confidence at the time as I was doing business with that department in the area of repro furniture so was accompanied by a delegation. The piece had export approval and came with appropriate documentation that had to be inspected at departure by China Customs (rice paper docs now lost). The wax seal on the bottom was part of the process. I may have been the victim of a convincing scam. What do you think?

Comments for Qianlong Ginger Jar

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Dec 21, 2010
ginger jar authenticity
by: peter

Hi Chris,
The forum members in China were very positive that the jar is a genuine antique, and the age given was the same as mine.
I think their opinion is reliable in this case because this is one of the more common types.
So what you have should be a late Qing dynasty jar. Mostly this means Guangxu reign.
If you want to know a value, I suggest you got and ask for a valuation. I have used them too.

Please let me know if I can be of any further help.


Dec 19, 2010
Qianlong Ginger Jar
by: Chris


I'm very grateful for your reasoned analysis, and, of course I am very interested in your complete response.

And of course if you thought that a wider and more dedicated forum would be interested enough to take a look, then of course I'd approve, because at the least it would be a compliment to the piece.

In 2007/08 I lived in Hangzhou and kept my eye open for, well, anything that might have been antique in the stalls and shops there and in other towns and villages. It was not very satisfying, and I came up with nothing, which given track record was not a bad thing.



Dec 18, 2010
Ginger Jar
by: peter

Hello Chris,
I can understand your concerns and I cannot give you a definitive answer as the jar rises some questions.

I will mention the pro and contra of it being a genuine antique.
But one thing I can tell you: this is not a Qianlong period jar. This sort of painted decoration is typical of late Qing dynasty and early republic porcelain.

So, if they told you it is Qianlong, you definitely have been had.
If you wish to discuss that purchase circumstances further, I am willing... :-)
I'm a bit uncomfortable discussing this possible rip off experience in public on this blog. I think there is a good possibility that you are right with your suspicions, and that someone probably knew you were buying something overly expensive, and not a Qianlong item. Send me your email via contact form, if you want to discuss this further.

Anyway, here is my view regarding this jar.

- The bottom looks old. Could be late 19th century.
- The painting style, colors and objects of the decoration all look as if it were made towards the end of the Qing dynasty or early republic.

- The decoration contains too many different objects, and the jar is so densely populated with these that it raises some doubts.

Look at the ball decoration pattern on the plate here:
The Chinese call this the ball pttern, I am not sure what the western name is, at the moment. Usually, with the ball pattern only balls are present, apart from rim decorations, etc., except in few cases. With your jar it is mixed with a host of objects and symbols. These belong to another type of decoration, but many of them are from about the same period as the ball pattern.

Generally said, antique Chinese porcelain is rarely so overloaded with different objects as with this.
This presents a problem. The bottom and the individual decoration items seem all right for late Qing period, but the overcrowded decoration is unusual.
The latter could mean a fake (unlikely), or maybe that an old piece with little decoration had a decoration added at a later time.
But again, in my view this cannot be Qianlong period.
For your information, the the picture to the right with the character looks exactly like a Chinese chess piece.

The question now is, were items with such crowded decorations manufactured at the time or not. I do not know. If you agree, I could place the pictures in a forum where Chinese collectors and dealers scrutinize collector's items, to hear others' view on this, but the result is not always conclusive. The advantage would be that there are people who have seen a lot more Chinese porcelain than western "specialists".

I have had to delete part of my response due to length limitations of this blog. If I shall send you the full answer, please provide your email via contact form or comment form. Your email address will not be published.

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