Chinese / Covered Jar / Western Jin period, c. late 3rd-early 4th centuryChinese
Covered Jar
Western Jin period, c. late 3rd-early 4th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Chinese
Creator Name-CRT: Chinese
Title: Covered Jar
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 267
Creation End Date: 333
Creation Date: Western Jin period, c. late 3rd-early 4th century
Creation Place: China, Zhejiang Province
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Classification Term: Ceramics
Materials and Techniques: Stoneware with impressed and applied design under glaze (Yue ware)
Dimensions: H. 10 7/8 in. (27.6 cm) with cover; D. 10 in. (25.4 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.126a-b
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Context: This covered jar dating to the late 3rd or early 4th century illustrates two important technical advances in Chinese ceramics: the use of stoneware and the development of glaze. A more refined clay that can be fired at a higher temperature than earthenware, stoneware is the stronger of the two bodies. First produced in some quantity in southern China during the Shang dynasty (c. 1700-c. 1050 BCE), high-fired wares were commonly used in China from the 2nd through 13th centuries. A glaze is a mixture of water and substances containing silica, which vitrifies or turns glassy during firing, and often other ingredients for color or texture. Glazes were known in China as early as the Shang dynasty; the first Chinese glazes were generally green, gray, or yellowish because this range of colors was easily produced during firing by the addition of an iron oxide.

The gray-olive glaze that coats this covered jar makes it an early example of the type of green-glazed ware for which China remains justly famous--although the better known green-glazed wares date later in Chinese history. This charming jar is an example of Yue ware, a type of ceramic produced for several centuries in a region known as Yue in southeast China in Zhejiang and Jiangsu Provinces, and dates to the Western Jin dynasty (265-316). A delightful bird with outstretched wings serves as the knob for the cover. Impressed into the shoulders of the jar is a band of crosshatching with borders. The evenness of the decoration indicates that it was made using a tool with a raised pattern, as incised decoration that is carved freehand into the clay presents a more irregular pattern. Four lugs and the faces of four taotie (mythic creatures) with false handles dangling from their mouths were applied over the impressed pattern after the body had been formed.

Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 60.
Related Document Description: The Ceramic Art of China. London: Oriental Ceramic Society, 1971, pp. 24, 61, pl. 19.
Related Document Description: Mostra d'arte cinese: Settimo centenario di Marco Polo. Venice: Palazzo Ducale, 1954, p. 115.
Related Document Description: The Mount Trust Collection of Chinese Art. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1970, cat. no. 19.
Related Document Description: 'Pre-T'ang Wares.' Transactions of the Oriental Ceramic Society 27, cat. no. 81.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.126a-b
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, Asia Society

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