The important images on Chinese floor vases
The dragon is most frequently encountered in Imperial ware or porcelain that was meant for the exclusive use of the Royal family. Nobility in Japan also had the prerogative of displaying dragons on their pottery but their dragon was different from the Imperial dragon. You can find five claws on dragons depicted on Imperial ware. All other dragon pictures were only allowed to have four claws. Pairs of ducks were used to symbolize the faithful love between husband and wife. In ancient China, most domesticated ducks could not fly. They were therefore especially appropriate for signifying the fidelity between husband and wife. Phoenixes often stood for the Empress herself and are not as frequently encountered. The phoenix symbolized recovery of power and social renown. It also stood for regal feminine beauty just as the dragon symbolized the Emperor.
The important glazes of Chinese floor pottery
Probably the most famous of the Chinese glazes is the celadon glaze. Most specimens are transparent and green in color. However, by varying the mixture and firing temperature of the porcelain, brownish red glazes could be produced. Crackled celadon vases may also be encountered. The cobalt blue glazes come next in popularity. This type of dye was used for making the highly valued early blue floor vases. The Chinese also used red and green glazes as well as a glaze which resembled the skin of the tiger. This last was called 'tiger glaze'.
In order to be able to identify a floor vase as being of Chinese make, two features of the vase should be examined. First, does it portray images that are typically Chinese and painted in the Chinese style? Is the glaze used a traditional glaze of Chinese potters? Because of the fact that Japan borrowed heavily from Chinese traditional beliefs, many of their own vases use typically Chinese imagery. However, sufficient familiarity with the drawing styles of both nations will allow distinguishing Chinese from Japanese pottery.
It is not just the imagery and the glaze that can be used to determine which vases are authentic Chinese floor vases. Letterings and peculiar details on the vase are often helpful for establishing the origin of the vase too. You can learn more about identifying Chinese ceramics at our website where we also have informative material about the modern Chinese vases.