It was not until I saw the actual process that this erroneous impression was corrected.’ The piece was then dipped into or painted with up to thirty applications of clear glaze, until all the holes were filled.” (pp54-55) Kerr is quoting above from Frank B Lenz’s ‘The World’s Ancient Porcelain Center’, National Geographic 38/5, November, 1920! Supporting this notion is the fact that I have also searched through every book I own on Republic period porcelains, including all the Chinese language ones, and none have images of this ‘rice grain’ pattern.The other possibility is that the pattern is considered so humble that it has not been studied in China as yet, and therefore doesn’t make its way into publications.Interestingly, the only references to ‘rice grain’ porcelains are in Western publications, namely Rose Kerr’s ‘Chinese Ceramics’ (Qianlong mark, but at least C19th) and George Weishaupt’s ‘The Great Fortune’ – Guangxu mark & period, see below.From Rose Kerr ‘Chinese Ceramics’ p 55, images were in black and white only.The PRC pieces usually have leaf basal borders, chrysanthemum flower mounds or dragons (stamped) in the cavetto, bat and I-ching upper internal borders, diaper upper external borders.The exception is the koi carp example which was purchased in France.It should be remembered that there was a China wide shortage of cobalt for the underglaze blue during the Japanese war with China from about 1937, WWW II, and for some years after the war, so this may explain a relative dearth of blue & white wares during this period.
It is called the ‘Rice Grain’ pattern, a misnomer because it was thought for many years that the rice shaped translucent elements which characterise this pattern were made by inserting rice grains into the clay before glazing and firing. The ‘rice’ shapes were made by carefully cutting out pieces from the porcelain and, when glazed, created this characteristic translucency.
This report should be seen as a baseline for authentic examples of this ‘rice grain’ pattern.
THE IMAGES Most of the examples shown here and throughout this report are of Guangxu and Republic dating. In general PRC examples are very standard in the combinations of their decoration, much of which is stamped or stencilled.
The range includes: *PRC *PRC THE UPPER RIM BORDER, INTERNAL By far the most common upper rim border is the bat and I-ching symbol fret, with four distinctly different examples shown below *PRC stamped border (last one, bottom right) Some of the diaper border variations are shown in the five examples below: Swastika (and bat) borders, below This next example from the 1960s-70s carp decorated dish, showing a shell type border, handdrawn Just a plain ring border A rare crab and band border Two examples below of key fret borders This ‘Buddhist emblems & squiggly line’ example is a one-off THE UPPER RIM BORDER, EXTERNAL There is quite a bit more variation in this border.
The diaper border on the external upper rim is the most common:- *PRC stamped border The ‘three friends of winter’ – bamboo, prunus and pine – or flowers of the four seasons are found on earlier examples, sometimes within a diaper border, as shown below, all handpainted.