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Comment by Richard William Ineson on August 14, 2018 at 10:22
Another interest of mine apart from the banjo is old pottery and porcelain. The photo shows a cup which is made of porcelain and generally of a type known as 'Sunderland lustre' bearing a black print which seems to show a lady playing a banjo. As this cup and saucer was probably produced around 1820/40 this picture could be a very early picture of a banjo.
Comment by Jody Stecher on August 15, 2018 at 17:15

The peg head suggests something other than a banjo, perhaps copied from art rather than from life.  The bigger mystery for me is short person without the banjo. One arm is fat and the other fatter yet, long feet, a wide waist, and seems to be  holding up left hand of the instrumentalist who likewise has one arm that is fatter than the other. What is happening here? Is this symbolic of something or is it a poor attempt at representing something realistically?

Comment by Trapdoor2 on August 17, 2018 at 1:08

Early photo-realism, Jody. These were the two famous Circus freaks, Li and Le were joined at the wrist. Their performance was a combination of weight lifting (with their joined and very muscular arms) and Bonsai tree pruning (by the 1820's, Bonsai had not met miniaturization) accompanied by the banjo.

Seriously, this is a cool bit of chinoiserie. The Brits had established trade with the Chinese and Japanese very early on and this may be a depiction of either a Sanshin or a Samisen player.

Comment by Jody Stecher on August 17, 2018 at 1:33

Do you know, for a minute or two I actually believed you!  I mean if the Czar of Russia picked the Five, anything is possible. 

Comment by thereallyniceman on August 17, 2018 at 8:45

Ah Richard,

I am a bit of an expert and have an eye for early pottery.  Obviously this is a fake as it was made long before Sweeney invented the banjo. 

Have a close look at the picture and you can see that it is a modern Chinese reproduction and, of course,

...worth very little, so I will give you £5 for it.

Comment by Richard William Ineson on August 17, 2018 at 15:03

Ah so, you have got confused with the Chinese court musician to Emperor Li Lo, Won Hung Lo depicted on this old plate.

Comment by Steve Harrison on August 18, 2018 at 20:25

Wasn't he the brother of Hoo flung dung?

Comment by Richard William Ineson on August 19, 2018 at 9:54

No, Won Hung Lo's brother was Ko Dak the inventor of photography, he lived in the Outer Fokus mountain region and had no interest in pottery or banjos. The maker of this plate was called Wej Wud.

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