Porcelain rhyton (drinking horn)

From north-central China
Sui dynasty (AD 589-618)

With a lion's head and moulded designs

The rhyton is a form that derives from the ancient Near East. It was not known in China before the Sui dynasty, when this piece was made. The form of this rhyton is very similar to silver ones made in Iran. The monochrome glaze may have meant to imitate the shine of polished silver. The ornamentation has a number of Western Asian features, such as the beaded borders and roundels, and the style of the seated figure.

The main qualities which distinguish porcelain from other stonewares are hardness, whiteness and translucence.The thinness of the body and the whiteness of this example places it among the world's earliest porcelains. These are features characteristic of the fine northern Chinese white wares of the seventh century.

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More information


S.J. Vainker, Chinese pottery and porcelain, (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)


Height: 8.600 cm
Diameter: 10.000 cm (max.)

Museum number

Asia OA 1968.4-22.21


Bequeathed by Mrs Walter Sedgwick


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