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Look, No Hands…

While updating photos for my website I came across something I hadn’t noticed before; many of the figures on my 17th century Arita pieces that copy Chinese Transitional ware have no hands. You can see on the examples are shown in photos 2 and 3.

I began to wonder if my pieces were the exception or the rule. After going through the references I keep handy and many websites I’ve come to the conclusion that this is the rule.

Deep dives into the literature inititially came up empty handed. Finally, though, I got my hands on a copy of “Japanese Porcelain” published by P.L.W. Arts. In a description of a jug on p. 40 it states that on pieces copying Chinese Transitional ware: “The hands were usually omitted, probably deliberately, because of the difficulties involved.”

Now I can’t say that, hands down, this is always the case, because another of my pieces illustrates the exception to the rule. See photo 4. Here an individual is portrayed carrying a tray with his hands.

While this research hasn’t turned up anything particularly gripping, I think that it’s generated a fun fact to keep at your fingertips.

R.J. Ruble

Ericsson Street Antiques

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