Magnificent Very Large Ancient 2 Ear Glazed Pot/Vase 100BC $399.99 - SOLD
Genuine Ancient Green Glazed Two Eared Very Large Ceramic Pot/Vase 100 B.C..
CLASSIFICATION: Glazed Ceramic Pot.
ATTRIBUTION: Ancient China, Han Dynasty (206 B.C. to 220 A.D.).
Height: 204 millimeters (8 1/8 inches)
Diameter: 256 millimeters (10 1/4 inches) at handles; 248 millimeters (9 7/8 inches) at shoulder; 107 millimeters (4 1/4 inches) at top lip; 128 millimeters (5 1/8 inches) at base.
CONDITION: Fairly good. One chip which unfortunately led to a “spiderweb” of hairline cracks, but stable and vessel remains intact. One handle entirely intact; one partly broken off and repaired. The original glaze is 90%+ intact on the upper surfaces – quite remarkable! The normal potting blemishes associated with crude hand production; and assorted minor bumps and bruises consistent with wear due to burial since ancient times. All quite normal for a 2,000 year old pot. A rare, large utensil in acceptable but not perfect condition.
DETAIL: A splendid, fairly well preserved and mostly intact very large glazed two-eared ceramic pot from the Han Dynasty of Ancient China. Although not rare, glazed pots from the Han Dynasty are uncommon and much sought after. Although not rare, large pots like this are uncommon. Generally they are recovered shattered into many small shards. The fact that this was recovered (more or less) in one piece is remarkable, despite the hair-line cracks. Lastly, two-eared pots are again, not rare, but uncommon. When you combine these three “uncommon” attributes; a glazed Han Dynasty pot; a large Han Dynasty pot; and a two-eared Han Dynasty pot; well, you have a very, very uncommon pot. There are many exceptional features to this pot, such as the fact that the glazing on the top surface of the vessel is almost entirely intact. On a vessel this old, generally the glaze has decomposed to a powdery, rough residual. The bottom of this vessel is so – where it laid in the earth for 2,000 years. There are lumpy traces of the original green ceramic glaze, but most of it has long ago decomposed. But remarkably, almost the entire glaze is preserved on the top surface of the pot, and in remarkable condition.
Although one of the two handles was partly broken off and had to be repaired, the other handle is entirely intact. Usually these handles are completely broken off and lost. The fact that one of the two handles is entirely intact, and the second 75% intact, is remarkable. If you look closely at the handles, you can make out two eyes, a nose, and a face – and what looks like a beard. We’re not sure whether this is supposed to be the face of a shaman, but it seems quite possible, even likely, that this very fancy vessel might have served some sort of ceremonial purpose. The facial depiction is quite striking, and the majority of the face is preserved even in the repaired ear. With regard to the repaired ear, you can see that the face is mostly intact – just the upper ears were broken off and one of the “cheeks”. We made repairs to this appendage, the repairs could be removed if desired without damaging the pot, but we felt aesthetically the pot was nicer with the repairs than without.
The worst damage to the pot is the innocent looking little rim chip – the only rim chip. Though it is quite uncommon for there to be but one rim chip, unfortunately as is often the case with ancient ceramics, the chip “ran”. By that we mean that a hairline crack developed and like in an automotive windshield, the crack “ran”. In a zig-zag pattern, a hairline crack runs from the rim of the jar all the way down the size to the bottom. Now, these hairline cracks are so common in ancient ceramics and earthenware that many simply refer to them as “age lines”, as they almost seem to be inevitable in ancient glazed ceramics and porcelains. They are virtually an inherent part of ancient glazed ceramics, and are also viewed as being almost compulsory – as much a testament to the age and authenticity of the piece as a detriment. Despite the hairline crack(s), the integrity of the pot remains fairly good – it remains sturdy, it is simply susceptible to any sharp impact or blow. It is quite rare, and were it entirely intact, it might sell for many thousands of dollars. Such glazed, eared pots, especially in large sizes, are quite uncommon and generally very costly.
Other than these blemishes as described, this exceptional ancient glazed pot has no damage other than the normal blemishes (warts, dimples, pimples and pits) one expects with earthenware crudely fashioned by hand. And then there are the typical blemishes (tiny scratches, scrapes and soil adhesion) one would expect to find of a household artifact which was used in ancient times and then buried for two thousand years. Notwithstanding it has emerged from the soil in comparatively wonderful condition! It’s not perfect, but it is mostly intact, and that is the exception for such ancient glazed earthenware artifacts of such age, certainly not the norm. There are a series of circumferential riblets and decorative flourishes visible, top to bottom, evidence of the potter’s touch of course, the result of being turned on a wheel, adding character to the piece.
Overall it is a very attractive piece, a fairly uncommon, almost “rare” and reasonably well preserved specimen of the ancient Chinese art of glazed pottery. If you’d like an authentic ancient glazed ceramic vase/pot to proudly display, you could not go wrong with this one. It is solidly shaped, nicely featured, and nicely proportioned. There is the broken and repaired handle - but it is not a glaring obvious repair, and filled with dried foliage it is not something which would easily discerned. Even then, a 2,000 delicate ceramic pot with absolutely no repairs or blemishes would be rather difficult to believe outside of an institution like a museum. There are hairline cracks as well – but as long as you are not intending on filling the vessel with water – it is not something one would notice with casual observation. It is something unlikely to be noticed except with close scrutiny. Filled with dried flowers for display, it would simply appear to be a perfectly restored/preserved ancient vase. You could showcase this with great pride either at work on your desk or at home. Either way, it will certainly generate curiosity and perhaps even a little envy!
HISTORY OF HAN EARTHENWARE: During the Han Dynasty (206BC-220AD) grave interiors were richly furnished with a wide variety of miniature objects, usually fashioned as replicas of actual possessions, animals, or buildings. Called “spirit goods”, these items were used as substitutes for valuable possessions, and were usually produced in ceramic and were glazed or colorfully painted. The wealthy elite's increasing interest in elaborately furnished tombs led to the mass production of armies of ceramic figures made using molds. In the case of the royal burial of the sole Qin Emperor, a terra cotta army of 6,000 was produced in full size. Burial ceramics made during the Han dynasty were decorated with simple but colorful designs painted directly onto the unglazed fired pieces or with brown and green lead-based glazes that could be fired at low temperatures.
HISTORY OF THE HAN DYNASTY: The History of the Han Dynasty (206 B.C. to 220 A.D.) actually begins in 221 B.C. when the western frontier state of Qin (Ch’in), the most aggressive of the Warring States, subjugated the last of its rival states, bringing the era of the Warring States to an end. For the first time most of what eventually came to be “China” was unified. The new Qin (Chin) King proclaimed himself a deity, and ruthlessly imposed a centralized nonhereditary bureaucratic system throughout the empire, establishing standardized legal codes, bureaucratic procedures, written language, and coinage. In an effort to even standardize thought and scholarship many dissenting Confucian scholars were banished or executed; their books confiscated and burned. To fend off barbarian intrusion, the fortification walls built by the various warring states were connected to make a 5,000-kilometer-long great wall. When the powerful emperor of Ch’in died, he was entombed in a massive burial mound. Recently excavated the royal grave revealed an army of more than 6,000 terra-cotta human figures and horses intended to protect the emperor's final resting place.
In ancient China his death was followed by a short civil war and the emergence of the Han Dynasty. The new empire retained much of the Qin administrative structure but retreated from the harsh and centralized rule by establishing vassal principalities in many areas. Confucian ideals of government were reinstated, and once again Confucian scholars gained prominent status as the core of the civil service. Intellectual, literary, and artistic endeavors revived and flourished. Technological advances included the invention of paper and porcelain. The Han Empire expanded westward, making possible relatively secure caravan traffic across Central Asia to Antioch, Baghdad, and Alexandria. Often called the “silk route”, it enabled the export of Chinese silk to the Roman Empire. The Earlier Han reached the zenith of its power under Emperor Wu Ti, who reigned from 140 to 87 BC. Almost all of what today constitutes China was under imperial rule.
HISTORY OF CHINESE CERAMICS: The first Chinese ceramics archaeologists have found date back more than 10,000 years. These were earthenware, which means they were made from clay and fired at the kind of low temperatures reached by a wood fire or simple oven. In China, most ceramics made before the Tang dynasty (600 A.D.) are earthenware. They may be glazed or unglazed, and are occasionally painted, often brightly colored. Stoneware ceramics are harder and less porous than earthenware and are fired at hotter temperatures—between 2100°F and 2400°F. At these high temperatures, the surface of the clay melts and becomes glassy. Although stoneware is usually waterproof, most stoneware ceramics are glazed for decoration. The glazes often contain ash, which allows the glaze to harden at stoneware temperatures.
During the Shang Dynasty (1600-1100 B.C.) bronze metallurgy superceded ceramics as the favored art form of the ruling class. However both the ceramic and the bronze industries evolved into complex systems of production that were supported by the aristocracy. Decorative designs rich in symbolism were created first in bronze were then imitated in clay. Chinese burial customs included the tradition of placing clay replicas of material possessions, animals and people in the tomb to accompany the deceased and serve them in the next life. Although archaeological finds have revealed that glazed pottery was produced as early as 1100 B.C. during the Zhou dynasty, the production of glazed wares was not common until about 200 B.C. during the Han Dynasty. However from about 1000 B.C. onwards during the Shang and Zhou dynasties, primitive porcelain wares emerged. Real porcelain wares appeared in the Han dynasty around 200 A.D. In the process of porcelain development, different styles in different periods blossomed.
The production of porcelain became widespread by about 500 A.D. Using a special clay with ground rock containing feldspar, a glassy mineral, the material was fired at very high temperatures above 2400°F. The surface of the clay melts at such high temperatures and becomes smooth as glass. Early porcelains were undecorated and were used by the Imperial court and exported as far as the Middle East. For instance during the Han Dynasty principally celadon (green) and black porcelain were mainly produced. The famous blue and white porcelain was created with blue paint made from cobalt and then covered with a clear glaze, which can withstand the high temperatures of the kiln. The technical and creative innovations of Chinese potters are unique accomplishments in the cultural heritage of the world. Today, archaeological excavation and research in China are revealing new sites and new examples of the genius of the Chinese potter.
HISTORY OF ANCIENT CHINESE CIVILIZATION: Want to know a little more about the history of human civilization in ancient China? Click right here.
A certificate of authenticity (COA) is available upon request. Artifacts are mailed from the USA. Due to its fragile nature this particular piece is only shipped in an oversized box with lots of Styrofoam peanuts. The cost for shipping this item includes delivery confirmation (you can track your shipment on-line at the USPS Web Site). Additional items shipped together do result in a discount. The shipping weight of this item is 7 pounds.