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Berwald Oriental Art

Large White Glazed Stoneware Jar and Cover (Wan Nian Guan)
Tang dynasty, 8th-9th century
North China
Height: 21 in, 52 cm

This magnificent jar and cover of remarkable size is of a purely Chinese form known as a wan nian guan or ten thousand year jar. Beautifully proportioned, of baluster form, the thinly-potted walls extend improbably to shape the broad shoulders that narrow to a short, waisted neck and delicately everted rim. The well-fitted cover is elegantly stepped and domed terminating in a small bud final. Its strong elegant lines are accentuated by the clean, fine white stoneware body covered in a lustrous, evenly applied translucent glaze. These qualities are associated with the finest whitewares manufactured in North China during the height of the Tang dynasty.

While earlier northern whitewares (for example cat. nos. 2 and 16) were also high-fired and covered in a clear glaze the present piece through its sheer scale represents the next level of technical advancement. The plasticity required of the clay to achieve such a large, rounded form and the rich, near opaque quality of the milky glaze testify to rapid technical progress. The plasticity needed to fashion such a dramatic form as the present jar suggests a place of origin in the Gongxian district of northern Henan, where the particular mix of kaolinite and mica produced clays noted for this quality .

These famous northern whitewares were considered suitable tribute gifts to the Imperial court in Chang’an. In addition, the wares were sent abroad both by demand and decree being indicative of the unsurpassed ceramic excellence achieved by Tang artisans.

Condition: three small holes to side of jar, two rim chips to mouth.

Related Examples:

For White jars of small dimension:
Idemitsu Bijutsukan, Tokyo illustrated in William Watson, Tang and Liao Ceramics, London, 1984, p.164, no. 152.
Complete Collection of Ceramics Unearthed in China, Henan, vol. 12, Beijing, 2008, p. 49, no. 49.
For one of large dimension but glazed in blue see William Watson, Tang and Liao Ceramics, London , 1984, p. 110 and 111, no. 81.

all text, images Berwald Oriental Art


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