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Ben Janssens Oriental Art

Pottery flask with applied decoration
China, Liao dynasty, 10th century
Height: 9 1/2 inches, 24 cm

A pottery flask, the body of flattened ovoid shape, supported on a tapered foot and with cup-shaped mouth. Both the front and the back of the flask are decorated with applied reliefs, forming a floral pattern. The shoulder of the flask has two squared lug handles, which correspond with two apertures in the foot. Imitation straps with rows of studs are applied to the sides. The flask is covered in a rich amber glaze, which pools to a darker colour in the crevasses.

• The loops and raised ribs on the body are […] signature elements of tenth-century ceramics. Ceramics from the Liao period often derive their forms from materials such as metal, glass and, more specifically as is the case here, leather. The Liao were a nomadic people and their artifacts often bear witness to their peripatetic lifestyle. The lugs and corresponding holes in the base of this fine flask would have accommodated a rope, with which the bottle was tied to a horse or camel, or even to a person’s back.

all text & images Ben Janssens Oriental Art

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