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My parents have bought some type of ceramic vessel (plate, pot, something like that), which has the following stamp on the bottom:

Shelob and her identical twin sells an area?

Armed with 米好 '-'’s answer on how to decipher seal script, I’ve done my best to identify these four characters (well, three, with one repetition), but I haven’t got very far. Sadly, my copy of Wenlin is version 3.4, which doesn’t have seal script support, so the Wenlin-based methods don’t work and I’m forced to work with my 简本 paper copy of 说文解字.

The top right character obviously looks like 區, but the lack of a bottom stroke seems suspicious to me. I can’t find any characters consisting of just 厂 or 广 and 品, though, so for now I’m inclined to believe it’s just an odd variant on 區.

The bottom right character has what looks like a turned-eye or net radical (罒), but with four ‘chambers’ instead of three. The lower part of the character looks a bit like a warped 貝, but with a weird extra pair of legs and a vertical line going through the main part; or like the top of 周 (in the modern form) with two 人 stacked on top of each other instead of 口. But neither of those options seem to be anything that exists, as far as I can tell. It reminds me of 買 or 賈, but there’s too much going on for that to fit.

The top/bottom left character mostly just looks like a five-year-old tried to draw Shelob (so a bit like 禺, I guess?), or perhaps more relevantly a bit like a disfigured 番 or 商; but it’s clearly none of those. I’m struggling to figure out what the radical is supposed to be, though.

 

Can anyone help me get further with this?

Edited to add:
I just spoke to my dad who guesses that the pot is probably from between 1900 and 1920 – though, if the characters end up being very corrupted (as the comments would indicate that they might be), it’s possible that it’s simply a fake made by someone with very limited understanding of Chinese characters and seal script.

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    Quick guess: 區黑香香. No idea what it's supposed to mean, though. – droooze Sep 29 '18 at 14:26
  • @droooze Ooh, 香 is a good guess! Didn’t even see that, but it does rather fit. The top being closed up into a sort of squiggly lying-down 日 had me in a bit of a box. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 29 '18 at 14:29
  • BTW, did you flip the image already, or is this the original? – droooze Sep 29 '18 at 14:32
  • @droooze This is the (cropped) picture taken by my dad. It’s the stamp at the bottom of the ceramic doodah they bought, not the actual seal itself, so it should be the right way around. The ‘border’ on 區 seems to confirm this: it would look quite odd flipped. The other three characters are quite symmetrical, as it happens, so it wouldn’t make much difference there. – Janus Bahs Jacquet Sep 29 '18 at 14:34
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    I can give liberties for「區」and「香」- (1) oracle bone forms of「區」may only cover two sides, and (2) the top of「香」was originally「黍」, simplified to「禾」later, which explains why part of「曰」extends so much. In the end, 區黑香香 still makes no sense to me. – droooze Sep 30 '18 at 10:29

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