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LOT OF 3 'MYSTERY CHALKWARE FIGURINES'

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Posted 3 years ago

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Rogueroman
(40 items)

This is a lot of three very unusual CHALKWARE FIGURINES" painted in black with red accents. To be honest, I have absolutely no idea who or what they are supposed to represent, but they are still kind of cute in an unusual sort of way. They measure from about 3 3/4" to 3" high and from approximately 2 1/8" to 4" across. One of the figures appears to be a female in a dress and the other two, in their exaggerated poses seem to be wearing robes of some type. They are all painted black and have fine, bright red line accents. In very nice condition. If you have any idea what they are, I'd love to know. They could be Japanese figures. Because of the estate they are from, I am guessing they are circa 1950s - 1960s.

Mystery Solved

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  1. Rogueroman, 9 months ago
    I finally found out what these mysterious little figures are. These are replicas of black pottery tomb figures found, along with other treasures, in the tombs of the AGE OF CIVIL WARS period, 403-429 BC, in Northern China. The original black glaze was achieved by smoke from a deoxidized fire. It turned the surface black during firing, and then the potters would polish or burnish the surface. The originals are said to have been unearthed in Hui-chien, Honan province. Many scholars thought them pre-Han, perhaps B.C. 4th century.

    These figures measure from about 3 3/4" to 3" high and from approximately 2 1/8" to 4" across. One of the figures appears to be a female in a dress and the other two, in their exaggerated poses seem to be wearing robes of some type. They are all glazed in black and have fine, bright red line accents. The light, rhythmical movement of the merry figures and graceful dances with their arms outstretched, while simple, are perfect expressions of Old China. These may have represented singers, dancers or musicians.

    During the reign of Chinese dynasties, the ancient Chinese believed that when a person dies, he or she entered into the after life. Death was comprehended as a prolongation of life, and an emperor's mausoleum was his after-life palace, mirroring his regal life on earth. All of the daily comforts of their past life such as servants, attendants, objects, pets, wives, guardians, concubines, food and drink were to be provided for them in the after life. This was accomplished by burying all of these things with the deceased when they died. As an ancient Chinese philosopher said, "Treat death as life." It was not uncommon to kill people in order to be buried with their master, but as dynasties evolved clay replicas replaced the real thing.

    Similar figures started turning up in Beijing antique markets around 1941 and they were collected by Freer Gallery, Honolulu Academy of Arts, Yamato Bunkakan, and Idemitu Museum. Then rumors began to spread that the figures were fakes as after WWII, many excavations of warring states period sites lacked such black figurines.

    However, in 1965, Fujio Koyama (Japanese scholar and potter) visited Beijing Palace Museum, and studied some black funeral potteries unearthed in Hui-chien and was able to confirm that there were indeed black pottery tomb figures found in archeological excavations in Hui-chien . Recently black funeral pottery figurines were unearthed from an archeological excavation of a warring state period tomb in Shangtong province.

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