Pottery jar with dragon handles

From China
Late Zhou or early Han dynasty (4th-3rd century BC)

Pottery used as a substitute for more expensive bronze

This funerary jar is made of grey earthenware. It was clearly intended to imitate a bronze vessel, which would have been more expensive, thus carrying greater status. Both the form of the jar and the incised patterns of the decoration copy contemporary bronzes. Pottery placed in burials that imitated bronze and lacquer came into use during the Eastern Zhou period (771-221 BC). It was a tradition that continued for many centuries.

The handles of the jar are in the shape of dragons. The vessel rests on a tripod, whose legs are also animal forms. The lid has a single round hole in the centre, with two rectangular holes in each of the four directions.

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More information


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


Height: 30.200 cm (with lid)

Museum number

Asia OA 1933.10-25.1


Gift of Oscar Raphael


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