By Gerald Davison

Inscriptions and marks of varying types appeared on Chinese pottery and porcelain with increasing frequency from the Tang Dynasty (618 – 906 CE) through to the Republic in the early years of the 20th century.

The new ‘Marks on Chinese Ceramics’ is the only reference work in any language to deal so exhaustively with the entire range of these very diverse marks.  From imperial marks to the many “hall” and auspicious marks used by scholars, collectors, potters and artists this is the essential new book for all professional buyers, collectors and antique and art dealers with an interest in Chinese ceramics.  Written in a way that will appeal to the beginner as well as the experienced professional, the introduction contains some 80 full colour illustrations (courtesy of Sotheby’s) of a varied range of objects together with their marks along with a history of the development of the Chinese written language and its use for marking many ceramics.

The main body of this new book illustrates some 4200 individual marks beautifully reproduced in appropriate spot colours and compiled in sections and groupings to make recognition of such unfamiliar shapes as easy as possible.  All of the marks are translated into English together with their counterpart pinyin romanisation. The range of marks include not only those in the regular kaishu script but also some 650 marks redrawn in the classical zhuanshu seal script form, together with a range of pictorial symbols.  Finally the very detailed 90 page Directory section then provides a wide range of historical, dating, geographical and mythological information for each mark where available.

Building on the gradual success of Gerald Davison’s succession of books from the unique small format ‘Guide’ (450 marks) published in 1987 (reprinted twice), the more comprehensive ‘Handbook’ (1800 marks) published in 1994, and the ‘New and Expanded Handbook’ of 2010 containing details of over 3,400 marks (reprinted 2013), this new book ‘Marks on Chinese Ceramics’ incorporates all of the material gathered and researched by the author over a period of nearly 60 years. All previously published material has been reviewed and updated where new research has brought to light additional information and for the first time there is a major increase in information of the Republic period with almost 900 marks representing the plethora of individual potters and painters working at the end of the 19th and the first half of the 20th centuries.

A unique conversion table is included for translating the 60-year cyclical dating system known as the jiazi, useful where commemorative marks include the year. 

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