Mystery Ceramics

Whiteware dish with perforations

In Spring 2011, the student interns cataloged some unusual ceramic artifacts. All three of the ceramic vessels featured here are (so far) unique in the collection. We’ve carefully reviewed our extensive reference library, but we haven’t yet found any sources that would help us classify these specimens. So we are posting pictures of them here in hopes that you might be able to assist us! The first specimen is an oval-shaped British whiteware flat dish with perforations. Could this be a soap dish? Or could the larger central hole suggest that it was originally part of a specialized cooking vessel, like a steamer or strainer?

Porcelaneous rice bowl

The second specimen pictured here is an Asian rice bowl manufactured from porcelaneous stoneware, with a partial glaze on both the interior and the exterior. We have several specimens like this, each with four identical hand-painted squiggly icons. Does this decorative motif have a common name? What does this symbol represent?


Featured Artifact

Eight-sided porcelain cup

Finally, we came across this eight-sided cup made from Asian porcelain, with an overglaze decoration. We have not seen this motif before. Is it a stand of bamboo? palm trees? grasses and flowers? Thanks for any suggestions you might have! You can post comments below or email Barb Voss (

One thought on “Mystery Ceramics

  1. About those ceramic, i have some idea of it.

    The second spicemen logo is really like the folk that pronounce Han Xiangzi –one of the members of Eight Immortals. In Ceramics , the ancient Chinese will use the magic tools to represent them, which call “Covert Eight Immortals” (暗八仙). I just remember that This kind of logo also existed in the blue and white china discovered in Hong Kong Archeological site. This one are using an old-method of transfer print which start from late ming dynasty call “模印” or “印花” and kiln with a method call “疊燒–which mean kiln the pottery by pile the pottery up.Therefore, the middle of dish is without glaze.

    The third one is a cup presenting bamboo.The complete version will draw four kind of plants which call 「Four Gentlemen」and the poem relatedㄧㄧ the plum blossom, the orchid, the bamboo, and the chrysanthemum .

    The poem is 「四時美花佳春色」(An beautiful flower from four seasons make all times are spring likely.)

    I am really surprised and interested about this archeological project! Good luck and thanks for your reading!

    A student from Hong Kong Shue Yan university Cheung Lok Yan.

    香港樹仁大學學生 張洛寅

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