China, Han Dynasty, ca. 206 BCE to 220 CE. A well-proportioned grey ware vessel with twin small handles low on either side of the body and a flat, unpronounced foot. The neck narrows from a wide shoulder and then flares outward into a spout with slightly rolled rim. The handles are painted a matte red that matches the swirling designs encircling the shoulder and spout. Size: 9.25" W x 8.45" H (23.5 cm x 21.5 cm)
The swirls look almost like the visualization of the Fibonacci sequence, with the interior spirals sometimes outlined by white dots of paint. This said, in actuality they were made to imitate those on bronze and lacquered vessels and are a common motif in Han ceramics.
Even at this early date, ceramic production in China was nationwide and regulated by the government, leading to uniform standards and styles across a vast geographic area.The grey color of this vessel resulted from firing it in a smoke-infused kiln. The surface decoration was painted on afterwards using mineral pigments, and is not protected by glaze. It is truly amazing that this vase has survived for 2000 years!
Provenance: Ex-New Jersey Collection
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