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Steven-R, Antiques and Collectibles Researcher
Category: Antiques
Satisfied Customers: 2769
Experience:  I am a retired Major, US Army, and an antiques and collectibles consultant based on the east coast.
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I have an artifact given to me from a deceased friend. She

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I have an artifact given to me from a deceased friend. She said it came from Bali and was very old and expensive. How do i find out what it is worth , if anything?
Hello, my name is XXXXX XXXXX I can assist you today. Bali is best known for carved face masks, but there are also examples of carved jugs in dark mahogany and even ebony--but not ancient items. Is the item carved of wood and is there more than one opening?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

There is only one opening at the top of the stem. I am not sure what it is made of. I think it is some form of pottery, not any wood i am aware of. What would ebony look and feel like?


Hello again, Kathleen--let's do a simple test. Take a pin and see if you can scrape the bottom...if it is wooden, you will find out and fast! If ceramic, we have to go in another direction as there are, to my knowledge, no forms native to Bali such as that....
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

i cannot scrap the bottom. Have you ever seen anything like this?

Hello again, Kathleen--that means it is likely ceramic and honestly, it looks a lot more like pieces that originate in North Africa and South America--could you perhaps send me an image of the base and a close up of the mouth of the spout?
Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

What about New guinea? Maybe that is where she said it was from. sorry, she died five years ago!

Sorry, but unlikely--but of course it could have been sent there at any time.


It is clearly made of "ebonized" white ware and unfortunately either your friend truly did not know or was mislead by someone else as to the origins. Those forms are very typical of items which are actually made in the region around Michoacan, Mexico and often called "wind whistles" as the large hollow base produces "interesting" sounds when air moves across the opening...the form is reflective of ancient Native examples discovered in many regions of Central and South America.


Originals are hand made, and have been since the 1920s, but unlike the ancient pieces, which are blackened by open firing with wood to achieve a chemical blackening of the clay, the more modern examples are white clay which is glazed to give an ebony effect--what are the actual dimensions, please?

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

5.5 inches from the back bottom to the top of the stem. At the widest width-3.5 inches. Base to the top of the head 5 inches.

Customer: replied 4 years ago.

I am surprised that this is not valuable. these people were world travelers and somewhat famous. they collected many items.

Thank you again, Kathleen...again, I honestly do not feel the form is from the Pacific region (most everything of that nature is made from wood) and I have dealt with a LOT of ceramics these past 40+ years. From what I can see, you most likely have a 20th century item made to appear older in form and style than it actually is--they could well have been mislead by someone.


Typically, the retail on an item like that will be from $75 to $150 in most any market--few regions in the world create forms such as that and in that color--another possibility is that it was made by an artisan from Santa Clara Pueblo, but I honestly think it has a far better chance of being Mexican.


Wish I could have given you better news!


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Have a blessed day!


With kind regards,



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