Little old dusty chinese bowl….

I should really call these segments ‘while my child sleeps’. Because that is really how these post come about. When she sleeps I busy myself with picking up around the house, doing all the basic stuff like eating etc and all at lightning speed. Then I sit down with a coffee and think of treasure hunting… Luckily I have little treasure hoards neatly tucked away all over my house. I have been having a mammoth clean out and selling a lot of my not so wanted treasures and bubble wrapping and storing away my more loved pieces. In my treasure hunts and storing missions I come across little oddities that make me think – ugh, what the hell is this, why do I have it and should I sell it??? This happens a lot.

This is todays oddity


It’s an ugly little bowl. It’s also an interesting little bowl. I brought it by weight and with other items, so I probably paid about 10centsNZ for it, maybe even less. I saw it and had to have it, it was so unusual to my eye and ugly, I found it intriguing.

So here we are, I know it’s ugly and Chinese in origin and looks and feels old and that’s all I know… Lets go treasure hunting.

To start with I did a google search with the most nonsensical search term in the history of search terms..(actually it makes sense now that I see it here – it felt like it didn’t make sense at the time) old Chinese bowl with red designs painted over a previous blue design on blue the time I thought ‘pfft’ I’d be lucky if I find anything useful in the search returns as this term would surely return millions of items.

I was lucky. Staring back at me 6 rows down, two across, was an ugly little bowl similar to mine. It says it is Chinese Imari?

To be sure, I searched Chinese Imari and jackpot! 100% this is exactly what this ugly little bowl is, and I found its ugly siblings, wow, what uh um pedigree?

Actually that is unfair as there are some unbelievably beautiful Imari pieces out there but this is not one of them.

From my research it appears Chinese Imari pieces were produced between 1700 and 1800. Wow, wait, WHAT? So this odd ugly little thing is potentially 200-300 years old?


On closer inspection my bowl appears clumsy, the red pattern work feels lacking in confidence, or rushed, or just thrown on with very little regard to the underlying blue pattern. There is the smallest of traces of gilding left in parts of the larger areas pattern work and even the fingerprints of the painter are locked permanently in time – forever trapped in the red ferrous coloured ink.

The material feels heavy for its size. It’s blue ground is thick, the glaze is pitted on the body and cracked at the join of the foot in what I assume is as a result of the firing process. Apart from this there is very little other damage apart from the characteristic tiny nibbles here and there on the base and the rim from old age. One thing from my searches is clear – this object is a Tea Bowl.

There are two popular thoughts on the origins of these pieces. The first thought is that they were produced for export by the Chinese in response to the popularity of the Japanese Imari of the time. With a change in regime there were lots of objects created in the earlier style and taste that were later re-used to fill the demand.

As mentioned above, it appears Chinese Imari pieces were produced between 1700 and 1800…. not sure if this means the object was created entirely within that time, or just the blue glaze bowl with blue pattern on it’s own.

The reason why I say that is because – the second popular thought is that the original objects (blue glaze) were exported to Europe where the red decoration was later added to conform to European market tastes. These pieces are often referred to as Clobbered or Clobber Ware.

At this point I’m thinking I’m starting to resemble a one woman Antiques Road Show….. But *shrug* I don’t care.

****** This is almost as far as I can go with this piece as I can’t read the mark on the base so can pin it to any particular timeframe….if any of you or any Chinese Imari collectors out there can help me with this detective story please get in touch..******