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Green-Glazed Earthenware Jar


Height: 17.8 cm. (6 3/4 in.)
Diameter: 20.7 cm. (8 1/8 in)

Tang dynasty 唐
8th-9th century

Published: Chinese Ceramics in the Idemitsu Collection, Tokyo, 1987, pl. 3.

Provenance: Idemitsu Museum of Arts, Tokyo

Of ovoid shape with short neck and rolled rim, the jar is finely potted with thin even walls and rests on a slightly flared foot surrounding the flat base. The deep forest green glaze spills onto the interior and falls in evenly spaced thin sheets over the rounded shoulder ending in sweeping edges and thick drips above the unglazed base where the compact, refined, pinkish earthenware body is visible. The interior of the jar is thinly coated with a golden-yellow glaze.

It was not until the Tang dynasty that low-fired lead silicate glazes were revived and with renewed vitality since their origin during the Han dynasty. With novel methods of preparation that resulted in greater stability, the glazes were able to survive in pristine states, as in the present jar. Given the light body color of this jar and its regular and refined surface, the usual preparatory slip coating beneath the glaze was not necessary. The preparation of the clay to produce a very fined body speaks to the high quality of the jar while the golden-yellow interior contributes to its special nature.

The lead-silicate palette developed during the Tang period included amber, blue and green and whether one or more colors were used, the ware is called, in general, sancai, “three-colored” ware. The vast number of earthenware and stoneware jars shaped like the present, coated either with monochrome or multicolored glazes, testifies to the popularity of the shape during the Tang period. The sancai wares were destined almost exclusively for the tomb, creating subterranean worlds as luxurious and colorful as those enjoyed by the nobility before death.

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