Height: 30.200 cm (with lid)
Gift of Oscar Raphael
Asia OA 1933.10-25.1
Room 33: Asia
Pottery jar with dragon handles
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.
S.J. Vainker, Chinese pottery and porcelain, (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)