Length: 17.700 cm
Purchased with the assistance of public subscription from the George Eumorfopoulos Collection
Asia OA 1937.7-16.69
Room 33: Asia
Stoneware ewer in the shape of a mermaid
Liao dynasty, 10th-11th century AD
The Qidan people, whose dynasty is known as the Liao (AD 907-1125), succeeded the Tang dynasty on the north-eastern edge of the Chinese empire, controlling territory in Liaoning province and present-day Hebei and Inner Mongolia. The Liao ruled at the same time as the Northern Song dynasty, but their ceramics were more influenced by Tang traditions than by contemporary Song wares.
In the tenth and
eleventh centuries, the Liao kilns produced both white wares and
The ewer has a very unusual form. Mermaids are not usually part of Chinese iconography, and this figure, with folded hands, may be more closely related to Buddhist tradition.
S.J. Vainker, Chinese pottery and porcelain, (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)