Monday, November 13, 2017

Chinese Egg-Shaped Mystery Object



I know that I haven’t had that many intervening posts since my last mystery object, the lion-shaped carpenter’s ink line, but here is the latest one. 



This is a utilitarian object, about seven inches tall. These are still quite common today, and while often now made of plain ceramic or stainless steel, odd-shaped ones are still to be met with.

Here are a couple of clues: Although some of these are plain and inexpensive, they often involve fine materials and workmanship. Also, they come in a large variety of sizes.

If you know what this is, or would like to guess, please answer in the comments below. For these mystery posts comment moderation is turned on, so if you are correct, it will still give others a chance to figure it out.

The answer, as usual, will be in the following post.

Good luck!
 

31 comments:

  1. Hello Jim - the fact that the object is Chinese makes it much more difficult to pinpoint. The top appears to open so I would suggest that it holds a collection of items inside which possibly could belong to an artist or jeweller. However, may be it is a green tea storage caddy, or holds spices and condiments.

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    1. Hello Rosemary, You were my first commenter and you got it right! Of course this tea caddy was not limited to green tea--black tea or oolong would do just as well!
      --Jim

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  2. It reminds me of emu egg art objects mounted on silver/wood with swing tops. They can be used for cigarettes etc.

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    1. Hello Hels, I have seen those, and they can be wonderful, albeit non-pc. I think that this would be extremely awkward as a dispenser for cigarettes. --Jim

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  3. Dearest Jim,
    That is an excellent mystery object to describe...
    My guess is that this is a Chinese mustard pot with lid. This one seems to open at the front for probably tilting to the back.
    Wonder who will guess this right!
    Hugs,
    Mariette

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    Replies
    1. Hello Mariette, Although containers can technically be used for anything that will fit inside, this one has a specific purpose. Mustard, in fact might be particularly unsuitable for placing in this object. --Jim

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  4. I'm completely stumped! This appears to open so it must hold something within? Cannot wait for the big reveal.

    PS: Your object looks like an old wig stand, which obviously it is not as you state these objects are still common today.

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    1. Hello CD, You are right, this does look like a wig stand! Unfortunately, this is much too small to be used for that purpose, although I suppose you could use it for the wig of a doll or pet monkey! --Jim

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  5. I am having a real stab in the dark here Jim; could it be some kind of incense burner?
    CLICK HERE for Bazza’s diverging from the standard Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

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    1. Hello Bazza, The elevated construction would be good for burning incense, keeping the heat away from other surfaces, but there are no holes for ventilation, so that can't be it. --Jim

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  6. I am going to guess the vessel is covered with an item that needs mending, like repairing (darning) a hole in a sock. I don't own a darning "egg", but I should. When I pick myself accidently with a needle while hand-sewing I always say, DARN. With this tool, perhaps there are needles, thread, and tiny scissors inside? Granted, if this were a darning egg on a stand it sure would be a fancy one!

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    1. Hello Linda, I never realized how many egg-shaped things there are! CD suggested a wig stand, and I also have to agree that it does look like some kind of darning tool. However, it is too large to use for darning (at least for socks). Also, this is made of soft pewter, so I imagine that needles would scratch it horribly!
      --Jim

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  7. Second guess. Is it a serving dish? If this is true, I have a third guess as to what it serves.

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    1. Hello Linda, I am not quite sure what you mean by a serving dish, but I don't think this qualifies as one. For example, one would not eat out of it or place it on the dinner table.
      --Jim

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  8. Replies
    1. I should have put in a ruler or something for scale. This is considerably too large for a doorknob, although I did mention they come in different sizes.
      --Jim

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  9. Jim, is it what we don't see, that offers the best clue? I suspect there is a hinge, and the top lifts up. Is it a storage container for tea leaves? I'm surprised the vessel isn't highly decorated. Did you do a little photo-shop on the photo?

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    1. Hello again Mrs. D., You are right, this is a fancy caddy for tea leaves. There were more decorated forms, but I prefer the simple. No Photo-shopping here!
      --Jim

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  10. OK Jim, I’m back to humiliate myself again. Let’s consider the evidence:
    • The object is raised so the contents could be hot.
    • The construction is pewter so it could be very old although the style looks more modern than ancient.
    • The stand is quite sturdy so some hefty weight could be present.
    • I haven’t got a clue!
    CLICK HERE for Bazza’s mannered Blog ‘To Discover Ice’

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    1. Hello Bazza, Your observations are all good ones, although not necessarily germane to the object's purpose. Of course, since it is pewter, it needs to be somewhat sturdy or it would be easily damaged--that, again, is independent of its use.
      --Jim

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  11. 茶杯子?Is this a tea cup keeping water warm with the lid? 還是莫名其妙。讓我再想一想。

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    1. Hello rtc, I have seen lidded metal teacups, but this is not one. The egg shape would make it rather difficult to drink from,對不對? Keep thinking, I'm sure it will come to you!
      --Jim

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  12. This seems too large to be a desk seal for documents. The top appears to open, but not easily. Could it store wax supplies or a candle for wax? This is harder figure out than the ink line, but just as fun to think about!

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    1. Hello Anon, You are right, it does look like a large seal, and although most seals or chops are much smaller, they do exist in sizes even larger than this. Of course, the soft pewter metal would still be a problem. We can eliminate anything having to do with personal seals.

      I do like your idea of storing sealing supplies--you could have a matched set--a small seal of this shape, and a larger container for the red sealing paste. (In fact, sealing ink was often put in pewter containers, but that is a subject for a future post.)
      --Jim

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  13. Replies
    1. Hello Maxwell, Chronica Domus above suggested a wig stand, and the same problem applies--the object is just too small, only about three inches across.

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  14. The compartment is for sweet smelling potpourris to scent the hat which was a status symbol in Chinese culture, especially at court.

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    1. Hello again, Your new idea is intriguing, but there are no perforations to let the perfume out. In fact, here is an extra hint: the object is intended to protect what is placed within it; ventilation is the last thing desired.
      --Jim

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  15. Did we avoid the obvious? Is this a tea caddy? It seems to large for a snuff box, but could be for pipe tobacco.

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    1. Hello Anonymous, You got this in at the last minute, but you are right! See the main article on Chinese Pewter Tea Caddies for my thoughts on the tobacco solution.
      --Jim

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I would love to know what you think. Please feel free to comment--no tricky security words required! Any difficulties or questions, email at: clavicytherium@yahoo.com