ancient chinese
October 10, 2008 10:42 AM   Subscribe

This is an ancient chinese inscription on an antique vase... thousands of years old. Can anyone translate it or let us know what kind of dragon this is or if it realates to any story... anything would help. Thanks your help is greatly appreciated

I recently aquired a vase, which is of asian decent, which I have done intense research on and cannot find what the Japanese writing on the vase says. I would greatly appreciate input from anyone with any info on this item or opinions.

Thank You!!!!

To start, it appears to be bronze.the vase is a standard oriental vase shape that sits on a tripod base with legs that curl under. The texture on the tripod base appears to resemble the leatherlike rough skin of maybe a dragon. It covers the area of the base stopping on the third tripod leg,witch then becomes a smooth texture, maybe resembling the tail of the dragon.

Starting at the base, which sits 1 1/2" up, tenticles begin to protrude from the surface. Between the first and second tripod leg, there are two claw like tenticle shapes protruding. The first one containing 5 fingers to the claw, sitting atop four more tenticles. The second set of tenticles contains 6 curved swirly claws coming from it. Between the 2nd and third tripod legthere are two more protrusions ( sitting closer to th 2nd leg.) the first protrusion contains 6 small twirled tenticles, while the second contains 9. between the 3rd and 1st tripod legs, there is a claw with four fingers, one finger is curved under and there are 3 curved claw nails.

Now the vase begins to become intriquite and very detailed.
The 1st tripod leg is the smooth textured leg resembling a tail. above that, the tenticle that protrudes form the surface, comes out about 2 inches and works itself into the shape of a dragon. The dragon appears to have a scales texture and as it reaches higher up onto the vase, begins to develop claws with distinguished sharp nails. the first foot has 2 claws (sharp nails) the texture and protrusions then for a mass array of details and dragon like objects, that covers half of the vase.
In the objects appears to be one dragon foot with 3 claws and one dragon's foot with 2 claws. The dragon appears to be on a rocklike strructure with its head covered in spikes peering out.its scaled tail also protrudes from the vase with arow of about 15 spikes on it.
The prtrusion concludes on the right side with a big swirl, while on the left it is a rock like texture.
This protrusion sitas on the vase's side. The rest of the vase is a dimpled texture with a thick glaze like texture dripping down the vase.( appears to look like lava dripping down a volcano.

it looks like this:

Under that is this marking:
posted by colusa to Writing & Language (10 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Are you certain that this vase is thousands of years old? Is the entire thing one piece or two? If two, is the 'tripod' also bronze?
posted by Comrade_robot at 10:58 AM on October 10, 2008

That's the artist's signature. I can't tell you if it's Chinese or Japanese. The form of the script is archaic, but that doesn't necessarily have anything to do with the age of the object, as it is common to use these archaic forms in signatures even in contemporary Japan (I don't know about China). In Japanese, this style of script is called "tensho".
posted by mr_roboto at 11:10 AM on October 10, 2008

Response by poster: Hi,

We are not "certain" that it is thousands of years old, however we were told by interpreters that the inscription is thousands of years old and that it is difficult to find someone to decipher something that old.

The "tripod" is not actually a tripod- we used that description to explain the shape of the base. ( did the picture appear? I am not sure if I pasted the link correctly) The piece is one whole heavy piece all made of bronze.
posted by colusa at 11:12 AM on October 10, 2008

Well, there's absolutely no way that it's "thousands" of years old. Sorry, but that's just absurd. It looks almost modern, and I've seen similar high-relief vases from the Meiji era.
posted by mr_roboto at 11:20 AM on October 10, 2008

Response by poster: ok, well all help is appreciated, I am just repeating what I was told. Your opinion is also greatly appreciated. thank you
posted by colusa at 11:28 AM on October 10, 2008

Response by poster: Also I was referring to the inscription as thousands of years old. I have no idea what period the vase is, that is why I am asking for help
posted by colusa at 11:30 AM on October 10, 2008

Yeah, it's not thousands of years old. Take a look at some ancient Chinese bronzes to see what they look like, here. The legs look like they were cast directly from an animal horn which to the best of my knowledge would be pretty much unheard of any time before the 19th century. I also think it's Japanese, not Chinese and it's either 19th century made for export or much more contemporary. I'm not an expert by any means but I did spend years working around a huge collection of Asian art and picked up some knowledge. Depending on where you are, I'd call around to either the local art museum or a local auction house and ask if there's anyone there who could give you more information. You might also want to take some better pictures.
posted by mygothlaundry at 11:54 AM on October 10, 2008

What you've got there is known as "seal characters".

This page is a good source on older style Chinese writing. (For instance)
posted by Class Goat at 12:02 PM on October 10, 2008

Response by poster: Thank you so much!
posted by colusa at 12:44 PM on October 10, 2008

I can't really be sure from the photo, but it appears that the last two characters read 锴造 (the seal character equivalents from Class Goat's link above are here and here). Individually they mean "metal/iron" and "manufacture". My guess is that the inscription is the signature of the metalsmith or the mark of the workshop.
posted by hellopanda at 11:27 AM on October 11, 2008

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