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Title:Wine jar (Guan), Cizhou ware
Artist:Chinese , Yuan Dynasty
Date:late 13th–early 14th century
Medium:Stoneware painted in brown on a white ground.
Dimensions:H. 31 cm.
Credit Line:Robert Lehman Collection, 1975
This heavily potted jar with high-shouldered ovoid body, which tapers sharply inward toward a slightly flaring foot, has a short neck with thickened mouth rim. It is painted in blackish brown pigment against a cream-colored slip under a translucent glaze. The slip and glaze run down over areas of the unglazed, wide foot rim and base. Exposed areas on the jar reveal a fairly fine-textured beige body. The inside of the vessel is covered with a dark brown glaze. The neck is decorated with a series of straight and wavy lines; a row of crude pendant petal-panels against a striated ground is at the shoulder. The principal design consists of three boldly painted ovoid panels that have been cropped at the top. Each panel contains a very sketchily drawn ogival medallion framing three vignettes: a sage in landscape; a crane standing on one leg; and a full-faced flower reserved against a striated ground. The center of the flower is drawn as a loose spiral surrounded by radiating lines. The spandrels between these three main panels are filled with scribbled designs resembling scalloped leaf points, and they are supported by a series of wide, narrow, and wavy lines. The convention of arranging decorative motifs in a series of bands was particularly popular in Yuan-dynasty ceramics. Also characteristic of the Yuan period was the practice of cropping elements of the design at the top and/or the bottom. A Cizhou-ware wine jar with the floral motif painted in very sketchy style in two shades of brown was found among the relics salvaged from the Chinese merchant ship that sank off the coast of Sinan, Korea, probably in 1323.(1) The loosely drawn ogival medallions framing the principal design are cropped at both the top and the bottom on the Sinan jar; the inside has been glazed dark brown. Yet another Cizhou wine jar, with a freely drawn phoenix design, was among the ruins of the Yuan-dynasty capital, Dadu, in Beijing.(2) This jar also has the principal design cut off at either edge. The centers of the flowers in the upper decorative band are drawn in much the same manner as the hearts of the flower on the Lehman jar. While the present jar represents one of the many kiln complexes in northern China that made Cizhou wares, the exact place of manufacture is uncertain. A wine jar painted with a sketchy phoenix design — similar to the one from Yuan Dadu — was found in explorations of the Hebiji kilns in Tangyin xian, Henan Province; it has been attributed to the Yuan dynasty.(3) Like the jar in the Robert Lehman Collection, the one from Hebiji has a dark glaze on the inside. A four-petaled flower in a band on the shoulder of the Hebiji jar has been drawn in much the same manner as the one filling an entire panel on the present piece. A lid to a vessel found at these Hebiji kilns, also attributed to the Yuan dynasty,(4) is decorated with flowers that have the same spiral centers as on the Lehman jar; however, the black leaves are quite different from the white leaves on the Lehman piece. Yet another Cizhou jar, this one from the Juntai kiln site in Yu xian, Henan Province, has a four-petaled flower as the main design, much like the one on the Lehman jar; however, the black leaves here resemble those on the lid to a vessel found at these Hebiji kilns.(5)
Catalogue entry from Suzanne G. Valenstein. The Robert Collection. Decorative Arts, Volume XV. Wolfram Koeppe, et al. The Metropolitan Museum of Art in association with Princeton University Press, 2012, pp. 311-312.
NOTES: 1. For a technical analysis of Cizhou wares, see Wood, Nigel. Chinese Glazes: Their Origins, Chemistry and Recreation. London and Philadelphia, 1999, pp. 129 – 35. For the wine jar, see Sinan haejˇo yumul (Cultural Relics from the Sinan Coast). Edited by Munhwa Kongbobu Munhwajae Kwalliguk. 3 vols. Seoul, 1981 – 85, vol. 1 (1981), colorpl. 140, pl. 351. 2. Zhang Ning. “Ji Yuan Dadu chutu wenwu” (A Record of the Cultural Relics Excavated at Yuan Dadu). Kaogu, 1972, no. 6, pl. 12,3. 3. Zhao Qingyun. Henan taoci shi (A History of Henan Ceramics). Beijing, 1993, pl. 208, fig. 112. 4. Henan Sheng Wenhuaju Wenwu Gongzuodui. “Henan sheng Hebiji ci yao yizhi fajue jianbao” (A Report of the Excavation of a Porcelain Kiln-Site at Hebiji, Henan Province). Wenwu, 1964, no. 8, pl. 3,12; Chūka Jimmin Kyōwakoku shutsudo bumbutsu ten / Archaeological Treasures Excavated in the People’s Republic of China. Exhibition, Tokyo National Museum, 9 June – 29 July 1973; Kyoto National Museum, 11 August – 30 September 1973. Catalogue. Tokyo, 1973, no. 222. 5. Henan Sheng Bowuguan. “Henan Yu xian Juntai yaozhi de fajue” (Excavation of the Juntai Kiln-Site at Yu Xian, Henan Province). Wenwu, 1975, no. 6, pls. 8, 15.
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