Antique Chinese Shiwan Ware

Antique Chinese Republic Shiwan (Shekwan) Pottery  | Shou Xing (God of Longevity)



Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimensions: 3-0”w x 6-1/2”h

Shown is a character representing ‘long life’. According to Chinese folklore, longevity is described as wise, knowledgeable and capable of ruling the world. Here the God of Longevity with an enormous high bald head. The story is that because of his bald head, Shou Xing was embarrassed to go out in public, and therefore often went to the hills and meditated. Eventually he decided to meditate deep into the hills, where no one else had dared to travel. Folklore tells us that he did not return for 1000 years and nine generation later.

The focus on this piece is in his unglazed hands where he holds a turquoise glazed peach of Immortality and his walking stick. His shaved, elongated head is unglazed and he has a lightly textured beard. On the back of his head is his queue prominently shown unglazed, and in contrast to his beard and lower hairline. His robe is a combination of cream and brown. His face is wonderfully expressive and welcoming. His walking stick which is not attached and can be removed from his hand, (this was done to prevent damage and to facilitate shipping). This figure is hand inscribed on the bottom, and presumed to be made early in the 1890s. This piece was purchased in a small town located in Guangdong province, China in 1985 from a scholar who specialized in the history and folklore embodied in Shiwan ware. 

Antique Condition: This is an extremely beautifully glazed figure in excellent condition: no chips or missing elements or repairs. “As is” and retains the original craft/workmanship. Any discoloration, chipping/cracking, surface wear or structural damage noted. ATTENTION: Because of the historic value and delicateness of this piece, we suggest you consider priority shipping and insurance from the delivery agent.  The dimensional shipping weight that we standardly use from USPS would not be sufficient. You can contact us to get a quote before purchase

NOTE: Overview and Characteristics of Shiwan Art Pottery

As an important part of Chinese traditional culture, ceramic wares have a long history reflecting the customs of this ancient culture. One of the most famous types of ceramic works is called Shiwan (Shekwan) ware, which has been the shining star in Chinese folk ceramic art as early as the Tang and Song Dynasties (618-906AD), and which flourished in the Ming and Qing dynasties.

Chinese classical Shiwan ware is a type of traditional pottery that comes from the talented artists of a small town located in the south of China called Shiwan, in Foshan City, famous for its culture and pottery. Here craftsmen are well-known for their glazing techniques and unique forms. All the sculptural work is hand-formed, and sometimes involves numerous family members within a village, while directed by a master craftsman, every object is unique, and therefore, a limited edition, which attracts art collectors the world over. The three largest collections of Shiwan Art Pottery are housed in the Hong Kong Fung Ping Shan Museum, and the Chinese Cultural Centre in San Francisco.

Original Shiwan figurines, (1880-1940), are extremely rare because the art/craftsmanship and their delicate, fragile nature. The greater the detailing, the more likely the figure has been made by a master artist, hence the higher value. Also the larger the piece the more valuable, (8-0” or pieces over 20.0” tall) are extremely rare. The age of Shiwan ware can be verified by the markingsor lack of markings, the fact that they are hand-formed, depicting highly expressive figural forms and vivid imagery; primitive in sculpting techniques; the decorative elements associated with the figure; the deep rich glazes infused with the piece; the type of regional clay (sandy, course clay is the oldest), and the stylistic differences. Finally, pieces signed or stamped by the artist/craftsman are rare. The oldest Shiwan pieces, prior to 1890, will not have a signature or stamp. 

DO NOT CONFUSE MUDMEN / MUD FIGURES WITH SHIWAN WARE!  This unique artistic style made Shiwan ceramics extraordinarily splendid, (not to be confused with the export mud men, which were smaller figures made of mud-like clay forced into a mold and/or finger-formed, and used as decorative additions to in bonsai, planters and aquariums). These lack the expression, detail, and individuality of their glazed handmade counterparts). © 2019 — Vermillion Publishing