An Antique Bronze Piece With A Mystery Inscription
During ROADSHOW's 2013 visit to Detroit, Michigan, the owner of a bronze vessel met Asian arts expert Dessa Goddard to talk about her treasure. She had purchased the piece for $25 from an antiques consignment shop, but didn't know how to read the Chinese text on the piece. "I talked to at least seven people," she said. "'This is old,' that's all they can say."
Goddard inspected the piece and explained that it was a Chinese bronze fu. She said it was "modeled on an old Chinese bronze form that was made as a food vessel for a wealthy official to be buried with him when he died, so that he would have food in the afterlife."
Deciphering the Text
According to Goddard, the text translates this way: "The government of Zhaoqing was committed to produce a gui [vessel] for Wen temple [the temple of Confucius] made in the 1st month, 12th year of [the emperor] Tongzhi." The date description translates to the year 1873, based on accommodating the Chinese calendar and information on the dates of Tongzhi's reign. Goddard continued to explain that the market for this type of Chinese object had recently grown, so she placed an auction estimate of $7,000 to $10,000 on the piece.