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Large Yellow-Glazed Earthenware Ewer

Height: 25.4 cm. (10 in.)
Sui-Tang period
7th century

The robust ewer has a classic 7th-8th century ovoid body rising from a flat base and slightly flared foot. The vessel is beautifully potted with a full rounded shoulder, broad cylindrical neck terminating in a flared rim and applied with a short tubular spout opposite a double-strand handle which is applied at top and base with decorative bosses. The unglazed base has a beveled edge and reveals the compact pinkish-colored earthenware body. The glaze falls in thin overlapping sheets on the shoulder displaying an unusual golden-yellow color and appears more lemony in color towards the base where the single layer of glaze is thin and quite glossy.

Among the small number of kilns known to have specialized in yellow-glazed wares during the Tang period are those at Changsha in Hunan province and, known primarily from their mention in Lu Yu’s 8th-century Chajing (“The Classic of Tea”), those at Shouzhou in Anhui province. Excavations at Shouxian have yielded kiln remains which identify the site as the provenance for the type of yellow-glazed wares mentioned by Lu Yu, where a white-slip covering appears to have been invariably applied to vessels before glazing, markedly different from the present piece which was glazed without a slip.1 The rare pale-yellow glaze here relates to Sui-Tang period wares of the Xingtai kilns in Hebei province, where the glazes were used on relatively high-fired ceramic bodies; pale-yellow colored glazes are also found applied to lower-fired wares produced in Shanxi province.2 The elegant proportions and delicate potting of the present piece suggests production at a kiln in Henan or Hebei, both known for light-bodied or white-bodied wares, for earthen as well a stonewares, for the use of amber glazes which might range to pale yellow in color, and for exquisitely potted ewers of great grace and simplicity.

1. Changsha examples abound. For the rarer Shouzhou attributions see a yellow-glazed ewer unearthed at Sixian, Anhui, presently in the Anhui Provincial Museum, published in Zhongguo chutu ciqi quanji, vol. 8: Anhui, Beijing, 2008, pl. 79.

2. For an example from the Xing kilns see Zhongguo chutu ciqi quanji, vol. 3: Hebei, Beijing, 2008, pl. 39 and for a yellow-glazed earthenware vessel attributed to the Shanxi region see Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, vol. 3:I, London, 2006, pl. 1237.

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