Antique Chinese Shiwan Pottery  | Shou Xing

Sale price$650.00

Dimensions: 3-0”w x 6-1/2”h

Shown is a character representing a ‘long life’. According to Chinese folklore, longevity is described as being wise, knowledgeable, and capable of ruling the world. Here is 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 mountains, where no one else had dared to travel. Folklore tells us that he did not return for 1000 years and nine generations later.

The focus of 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, 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 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 is presumed to be made early in the 1890s. This piece is from the Estate of Rudolph Schaeffer, (1886-1988) who headed the School of Art & Design in Chinatown & Potrero Hill San Francisco which closed in 1984. He had an extensive collection of Chinese artifacts and particularly Shiwan Art pottery. 

Condition: Excellent meaning that the piece retains its original craft/workmanship showing a wonderful-developed patina commensurate which suggests a degree of wear that corresponds to its vintage and meets all the standards of the collectible Shiwan ware. No discoloration, chipping/cracking, surface wear, or structural damage.

Additional Information: 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 of their 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. 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, coarse clay is the oldest), and the stylistic differences. Travelers or missionaries to the orient would purchase the mud figures at local markets and carry them home. These were not stamped, because they were not for importation, although you may find some pieces signed by the artist.