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I was gifted with this antique vase, originally purchased in 1925 from a business called Melton's in Omaha, Nebraska. It is heavily textured and features four different bodhisatvas, each with a carefully detailed and individual face. Does anyone know whether this is Chinese or Japanese, and perhaps how old it is?

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Hi Kathy, Interesting vase you have here. When you mentioned "Bodhisattva" that really threw me for a loop! As I would have said "Japan or Nippon Satsuma with Moriage decoration" LOL. I'm by NO means an expert in any Asian art forms, because Asian antiques and collectibles are known to be a terribly challenging category to begin with! (Even experts make major mistakes sometimes).

So, if my first guess (Japanese Satsuma) is correct, then the characters generally, as I understand them anyways, are from Traditional Kabuki Theater! Not Buddhism. So,  lets start with how you determined this please? Include any/all knowledge or info you have in regards to your vase to help us, help you!

Secondly, You have a piece of paper affixed to the base. Can you please remove it, or loosen it, on one edge, so we can see if there are any other identifying marks, other than the two slash type marks, seen just above the paper?

Pieces of paper on or in Old items may or may not be correct. It may have been what someone "thought or imagined" or was told by someone who may or may not have been knowledgeable on the subject here. The date as well can be completely wrong, unless you have direct knowledge from a member of your own family ( or a person well known to your family, ie.. relatives, etc). Traditionally this process is called "Provenance", and if you do have a written or any other record for this piece, please do share with us! :)

It would also be very helpful to know the exact size of your item please. Once we have more info, I'm sure we can help to solve your mystery! 

Thanks so much for your reply! I removed the paper on the bottom and there are no additional marks beneath. The date of purchase, 1925, and the city of purchase, Omaha, NB, are confirmed both by the paper on the bottom and a note the previous owner had inside the vase. The original purchaser was the mother of the previous owner, who was the mother of the friend that gifted me with the vase after her mother died.

I had a similar piece that my grandmother brought back from Japan (I believe) in 1906--sadly destroyed by an earthquake. My mother told me the figures depicted were bodhisattvas, which is where I came up with that idea. I am excited they may be classical Kabuki characters instead!

The vase is 11 inches high and approximately six inches wide at its widest point. Thanks so much for your help!

Ok, LOL Long line of Mom's there, and that is very cool! 1906 would have been "Nippon" the old name for Japan. And the decoration is definitely "Moriage" work, so that means, I'm nearly certain what you have are Kabuki Theater figures, not Bodhisattva's!

If you google around you can probably ID which one's you have too! Its a nice little vase, congrats!

Thanks again for the info. I'll go do more research-but now i have an inkling of what I'm looking for!

I've done a bit more research, now that I had the right direction from you, Vicki. The characters depicted are the "Immortals," people who, because of their skill and spirituality, are supposed to live forever. It seems to be a common theme for these moriage satsuma pieces. I would guess, from the examples i saw online, that this is an early 20th century piece, which fits, but it could also be late 19th. Thanks again!


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