Chicken-Headed Ewer

Period: Eastern Jin dynasty (317–420)

Date: 4th–5th century

Culture: China

Medium: Stoneware with celadon glaze (Yue ware)

Dimensions: H. (to top of handle) 7 1/2 in. (19.1 cm)

Classification: Ceramics

Credit Line: Gift of Mrs. Richard E. Linburn,1979

Accession Number: 1979.353


Glazed stoneware was produced in southeast China as early as the eighth century B.C. However, the term "Yue ware" is usually applied only to examples made from the Three Kingdoms period through the sixth century A.D. The earliest examples include burial goods, such as models of stoves and animal pens, as well as vessels in the shape of lions, rams, or mythical creatures such as the bixie. Ewers with chicken-headed spouts appear in the second half of the fourth century. Earlier jars with purely decorative chicken heads applied to the shoulders provide possible prototypes for these distinctive vessels. The lack of decoration on this piece is typical of wares made during the fourth century, when daubs of iron oxide deliberately placed to produce dark brown spots against the green ground were the only decoration used.