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Do you read Chinese characters?
Old 08-16-2005, 03:48 PM   #1
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Do you read Chinese characters?

* * *My spouse found a porcelain vase at Goodwill that's hand-thrown & glazed with an Asian scene.* It's 14" tall and 8" in diameter.* It's very well made and I don't think it's a cheap tourist tchotchke, but I could be wrong.

* * *The writing seems to be classic Japanese or Chinese but there's no labels or markings other than some characters across the top.* As an ignorant English speaker I can't even tell you if they're Chinese characters or Japanese.* (I'm pretty sure they're not Korean!)

* * *Are these photos clear enough to recognize the language?* (Click on each image to enlarge it to screen size.) Can anyone translate or determine their age or can you refer me to someplace on the web?* I have a sneaking suspicion that it says "These silly farangs paid too much" but it's the only way to identify the vase or its story!
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Re: Do you read Chinese characters?
Old 08-16-2005, 03:59 PM   #2
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Re: Do you read Chinese characters?

Nords, my Mandarin is a little rusty but it says either, "See Rock City" or "Hillary in 2008", not sure which..

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Re: Do you read Chinese characters?
Old 08-16-2005, 04:06 PM   #3
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Re: Do you read Chinese characters?

Ooppps. Actually it appears to be Cantonese and roughly translates as "Return for Deposit - 2 Yuan"....

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Re: Do you read Chinese characters?
Old 08-16-2005, 08:14 PM   #4
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Re: Do you read Chinese characters?

Hi Nords,

I can recognize some of the characters, but can't make out the whole thing.
Starting from the right, the first two characters are "river/inlet" and "mountain,"
which my Japanese dictionary says in combination means "landscape." There
is a date stamp, but I can't make out the reign name (I can't find anything matching
in either Japanese or Chinese/Taiwanese reign name lists; perhaps it is Korean
after all?). There does seem to be a date stamp of "1-monkey", where "1" cycles
from 1-10, and "monkey" is one of the 12 years of the Chinese zodiac. This
combination cycles every 60 years, which would make it (2004-N*60), where N is
an integer (2004 was the most recent "1-monkey" year.)

There seem to be some characters like "scene," "hill," "sword-point" after that,
among which a place-name is probably included, but I'm tapped out at this
point. Sorry...

Oh, and the thing that looks like "D8" inside a circle to the far right seems like it
might be a signature.

Anyway, hope this helps a little.

Bpp
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Re: Do you read Chinese characters?
Old 08-16-2005, 08:59 PM   #5
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Re: Do you read Chinese characters?

Quote:
Originally Posted by bpp
Anyway, hope this helps a little.
Hey, I appreciate it, thanks. You've gotten a lot further than any of our neighbors. At this point I'm considering the "linguists" at our local branch of the NSGA.
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Re: Do you read Chinese characters?
Old 08-16-2005, 10:28 PM   #6
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Re: Do you read Chinese characters?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Nords
It's very well made and I don't think it's a cheap tourist tchotchke,
Talk about Chinese, tchotchke ? Are you a landsman?
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Re: Do you read Chinese characters?
Old 08-16-2005, 11:37 PM   #7
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Re: Do you read Chinese characters?

Nords,

I studied chinese characters a few years ago, but don't remember much. I recognize pieces of some of them, so I would be pretty sure they are Chinese vs. Japanese, but bpp is way ahead of me on the interpretation. I think he's right about the signature.

I'll see what I can decipher from my dictionaries.
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Re: Do you read Chinese characters?
Old 08-17-2005, 01:28 AM   #8
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Re: Do you read Chinese characters?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MJ
Talk about Chinese, tchotchke ? Are you a landsman?
Main Entry: lands·man
1 : a fellow countryman
2 : one who lives on the land; especially : one who knows little or nothing of the sea or seamanship

Well, I've picked up a lot of strange vocabulary in the Navy and the second definition doesn't apply. I don't know the word-- is that how you meant it?
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Re: Do you read Chinese characters?
Old 08-17-2005, 03:17 AM   #9
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Re: Do you read Chinese characters?

PS: I found a Korean era name list, and nothing there matches anything
on the inscription either.

The handwriting and general style do look Chinese, as Sheryl notes.

FWIW,
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Re: Do you read Chinese characters?
Old 08-17-2005, 08:21 AM   #10
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Re: Do you read Chinese characters?

Nords,
I was refering to "tchotchke" which is derived from a Jewish word "tshatshke" meaning trinket.
It's not strange to me. I rarely use it since I have always thought it was too ethic for most people to understand. I guess I was wrong.

That's why I asked whether you were a landsman (a fellow countryman)

MJ
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Re: Do you read Chinese characters?
Old 08-17-2005, 08:31 AM   #11
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Re: Do you read Chinese characters?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MJ
Nords,
I was refering to "tchotchke" which is derived from a Jewish word "tshatshke" meaning trinket.
It's not strange to me.

*Everyone* knows that "Tchotchke's" is a restaurant in Office Space.

I hope you have the appropriate amount of "flair".
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Re: Do you read Chinese characters?
Old 08-17-2005, 10:17 AM   #12
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Re: Do you read Chinese characters?

Having lived in NY - tchotchke is a very familiar word to me.

My co-worker saw me printing the characters last night and offered that he has a friend who reads - if he gets around to sending her the link, and she replies, we may have a translation!

I recognize the character that looks like a four-square tic-tac-toe with a line thru it as meaning "field" - thats as far as I got with the dictionary.* *
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Re: Do you read Chinese characters?
Old 08-17-2005, 10:31 AM   #13
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Re: Do you read Chinese characters?

My housemate IS Chinese, born and raised in China. I had him look at the photos to see if he could translate them, but he was unable to..... they were either too stylized, or written to sloppily for him to read.
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Re: Do you read Chinese characters?
Old 08-17-2005, 12:23 PM   #14
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Re: Do you read Chinese characters?

Quote:
Originally Posted by MJ
Nords,
I was refering to "tchotchke" which is derived from a Jewish word "tshatshke" meaning trinket.
It's not strange to me. I rarely use it since I have always thought it was too ethic for most people to understand. I guess I was wrong.

That's why I asked whether you were a landsman (a fellow countryman)

MJ
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Marshac
My housemate IS Chinese, born and raised in China. I had him look at the photos to see if he could translate them, but he was unable to..... they were either too stylized, or written to sloppily for him to read.
Well, bummer. I can't tell if it's 200-year-old pictographs or just a faker reproducing a pretty picture. We get a lot of that around here...
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Re: Do you read Chinese characters?
Old 08-17-2005, 01:33 PM   #15
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Re: Do you read Chinese characters?

Nords: asked my mom. her response "it just says the name of a town, in a clear day, the view of the mountains and water, and in a certain year."* If you want a more poetic translation, could have her ask my dad who reads chinese lit and poetry (as in a hobby).

also, my mom said yeah it is sloppy.
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Re: Do you read Chinese characters?
Old 08-17-2005, 05:13 PM   #16
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Re: Do you read Chinese characters?

So Nords, where did you get this thing anyway?? Did whoever sold it to you have any claims to it's age or origin?

It looks like a nice piece, compared to some of the tacky reproductions that abound.

Maybe you could go on Antiques Roadshow with it and find out it's really worth a million dollars and then you could retire......

oh, nevermind. too late.
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Re: Do you read Chinese characters?
Old 08-17-2005, 06:27 PM   #17
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Re: Do you read Chinese characters?

Quote:
Originally Posted by P.S.
Nords: asked my mom. her response "it just says the name of a town, in a clear day, the view of the mountains and water, and in a certain year." If you want a more poetic translation, could have her ask my dad who reads chinese lit and poetry (as in a hobby).

also, my mom said yeah it is sloppy.
Excellent! Thanks, that's pretty much what the scene shows. And I'd appreciate anything poetic that your father can add. I figure this "vase" is just a charcoal heater missing its cover.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Sheryl
So Nords, where did you get this thing anyway??* *Did whoever sold it to you have any claims to it's age or origin?

It looks like a nice piece, compared to some of the tacky reproductions that abound.*

Maybe you could go on Antiques Roadshow with it and find out it's really worth a million dollars and then you could retire......

oh, nevermind.* too late.
Goodwill. What initially piqued our interest is that it's hand-thrown but of very high-quality workmanship. (Well, except for the sloppy penmanship...) We're more concerned about insurance (which doesn't seem necessary now) and the story behind the scenery than we are about making a killing.

If you're gonna have a possession it might as well have a story to it. A relative of mine was very enamored of Sameul Johnson, the British lexicographer. When he (the relative) was diagnosed with liver cancer he gave me a copy of Bosley's biography of Johnson and mentioned that he'd bought it in a British bookstore. The inside cover had an extensive amount of shorthand written in it along with some newspaper clippings, but shorthand is very phonetic and I couldn't make heads or tails out of it from the clipping or from various shorthand websites.

I was finally referred to a retired stenographer who was able to read early 20th-century British shorthand, and it was a story about Johnson making a funny/pithy comment. I was able to write that up and get it back to my relative a few weeks before he died. So I've learned to pull these threads wherever I find them.

I've wondered why Antiques Roadshow doesn't come to Honolulu, but I think it's because (1) there are very few antiques here and (2) even fewer antique dealers.
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