How to Identify Antique Chinese Vase

Chinese Vase -

How to Identify Antique Chinese Vase

The ceramic industry in China dates back to 2000 years ago, but Chinese pottery is still fascinating and thought of as the most attractive worldwide.  Many nations and cultures get influenced by Chinese pottery in this modern era. Many people try to reproduce these ancient ceramic pieces and sell them as genuine artifacts, which sometimes end up in large-scale money auctions.

Porcelain identification is a very specialized set of skills. Several factors are considered experts. They begin with the item shape and end mark on the item. It can be a little challenging to differentiate a real piece of Chinese porcelain from a fake one. Since each era and dynasty brought its type of porcelain, there is no single way to collect the value of Chinese porcelain against modern counterfeiting.

Here you will have a step-by-step ancient guide on how to identify an antique Chinese vase.

How to tell if a Chinese vase is antique?

Step by step ancient guide to identifying an antique Chinese vase:

Vase Shape

The first step is to check the vase shape. The shape of the vases changed from one dynasty to another, but these were not significant changes, and the shapes largely remained the same from one era to another. A vase whose shape did not exist during the dynasties may not be a genuine antique; about 20 vase shapes are authentic Chinese. During the Song Dynasty, vases had plum shapes; simultaneously, there were pear-shaped, cone-shaped, and double gourd-shaped vases. Garlic mouth vases and baker vases were popular during the Yuan Dynasty, while moon flasks, globular and Rolwagen vases belong to the Ming Dynasty. Mallet-shaped vases, bangchuiping, yen-yen vases, and willow leaf vases are from the Qing Dynasty. The Yong Zheng dynasty saw the rise of the Begonia shape and pomegranate vase, while the common vase, hundred deer, and Zhuanxinping vase were famous during the Qianlong dynasty.

Color Used for Vase Decoration

After checking the vase shape, the next step is to test the color used to decorate the vase. On a whiteware surface, most ancient Chinese artists have used blue paint variations. The Chinese potters used to decorate vases from the blue color palette from one era to another depending on the availability and the ink quality allowed to be imported at any time.

In addition to the blue and white colors, some ancient Chinese vases will also be decorated in red, green underglaze, blue overglaze, and other colors underglaze, multi-color combinations, and enamel colors. By examining the colors used to decorate the porcelain vase and matching it with the shape, you can determine when the vase was made and classified as antique.

Design and Decoration

After confirming that the color is valid, the next step is a design review on the porcelain. The use of decorative style will indicate the reign in which this piece was produced. Different dynasties had different standards; the painting style can also be assigned to a particular era. Chinese artists decorated the porcelain vases with many different designs. On these ancient pieces, flowers are the most famous work of art, but like everything else, the decoration themes varied from one era to another.

The peony and crab apple trees that appear together, and the hibiscus and famille rose, which appear separately or together, are popular decorations that can help you identify antique Chinese vases. Others include jasmine, orchids, chrysanthemum, lotus, camellia, lotus, and peach. During the Song Dynasty, since the beginning of pottery in China, the vase is considered not to be genuine antique porcelain if it features decorations other than those that were common.

Vase Base and Foot

The mark displayed at the bottom of the vase indicates whether the piece is an authentic antique or modern fake. To make and shape the vase foot, artists from different eras used different techniques. The foot should match the suggested period, or the vase would be considered fake.


Chinese porcelain is characterized through a glass-like coating applied to the body of the item. This waterproof coating is known as glaze. Glazes were used to decorate and protect Chinese ceramics. The glaze type being used varies from one dynasty to another. The glazes' usage began with the Sui and Tang dynasties. To consider the antique is genuine, the glaze type needs to match back when the vase is claimed to have come from.

In the ceramics of the Tang Dynasty, for example, a triple-colored glaze usually appeared in green, amber, and cream, but some pieces were also purple, blue, and brown. During the Song Dynasty, potters used cool-toned monochrome glazes, which are the most modern interior decoration in today's world. Ceramics from the Song Dynasty can be further classified in the kiln from which they were made. China's five great kilns included Jun, Ding, Ge, Guan, and Ru. Ru ceramics, also called Ru Ware, are rare and are sought after for their jade glaze.


The use of clay was fired in the 18th century. In Jingdezhen, potters used a mixture of patents and kaolin to make extremely translucent and white porcelain. In general, according to collectors, porcelain pottery made in the 18th century should not have been defective, as this period was the height of the ceramic industry in China.

Aging Signs

Any artifacts that claim to be old will have aging signs. To identify antique vases, check the bottom and the sides of the body of the vase. At the bottom of a genuine antique vase will usually have dirt where the vases had been sitting for years, and it will be easier to clean it using a cloth. Check the vase's body; an antique vase will have apparent wear and tear marks but will be random; the choreography marks are designed to make a vase look older.

How can you tell if a Chinese vase is antique?

Marks on Porcelain

One can tell if a Chinese vase is antique by considereing above steps, the final step is to find marks on the porcelain. Chinese experts understand the meanings of symbols, what different symbols represent. These Chinese marks match all previous features to determine the item as an authentic Chinese antique vase.