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Home >> Life style >> A Repaired Ming Bowl

A Repaired Ming Bowl

A Repaired Ming Bowl

A while ago I spent the most fascinating time inspecting an old Ming dynasty bowl with one of my suppliers. He is passionate about Chinese ceramics and shook his head in disbelief the first time that I told him that I find it hard to appreciate them. Every time since then he brings out some little treasure for me to look at, hoping to spark my interest. This time he really succeeded.

He produced a blue and white Chinese bowl which I have to say at first glance did not grab my attention. It is a small unexceptional rice bowl which would have been used at every meal with chopsticks He also stated that it was quite ordinary, as Ming bowls go, and not of great value, particularly as it had been broken. To my uneducated eye it looked quite ordinary and I could see it was broken and had been mended, as the repair was very obvious.

 

There is a lot to be said about the repair. It has changed the whole character of the piece. The repair is the most beautiful thing about this.

I rubbed my finger across the repair and it was impossible to feel where the repair had been done. There was no variation in depth at all. The repair was seamless to the touch. It had been mended with a bright shiny metal. Closer inspection showed that the repair had been done with liquid gold. It is quite fabulous to see the quality of the workmanship. So good, that no effort to hide the repair had been attempted. Artists of lesser ability may have tried to match the colours in an attempt at disguise, and to pass off the bowl as undamaged.

 

This artist had a totally different perspective. Even tiny spots of damage have been dotted with the molten gold.

 

We discussed who may have carried out the work and both agreed that it would not have been a potter or ceramicist. He thought it may have been a goldsmith; someone familiar with the characteristics and flow of molten gold. I thought it may have been a cloisone maker, used to intricate patterning, polishing and painstaking work. Of course we will never know, but it is something I keep thinking about. What made the craftsman consider attempting to mend this ordinary object? Was he practising for another project, possibly just honing his skills? Maybe the dish was a treasure to him before it broke. Wouldn’t it be wonderful to find out?

The clever skill and artistry of an unknown genius has transformed the appeal of this quite ordinary little bowl into an article of very high value. Thanks to dedication skill and attention to detail he/she has transformed it into a rare piece of exceptional quality.