XLg Medieval Mongol Glazed Sculpted Ceramic Vase 1300AD $399.99 - SOLD
Exceptionally Striking, Very Large Genuine Ancient Medieval Mongol Glazed Sculpted (“Carved”) Ceramic Vase.
CLASSIFICATION: Glazed Sculpted/Carved Ceramic Vase.
ATTRIBUTION: In the Style of Ancient China, Yuan Dynasty (1275-1368 A.D.).
Possibly an 18th or 19th Century Revival Imitative.
Height: 264 millimeters (10 5/8 inches).
Diameter: 159 millimeters (6 3/8 inches) at bowl; 71 millimeters (2 7/8 inches) at top lip; 72 millimeters (2 7/8 inches) at base.
Notes: Artificial foliage shown is available upon request.
CONDITION: Very good. One repaired rim chip on underside of rim. The normal potting blemishes associated with hand produced ancient ceramics (warts and dimples, zits and pits). But no cracks and no breakage. Quite remarkable, and very handsome.
DETAIL: A splendid, very large, remarkably well preserved, glazed and sculpted/incised earthenware vase apparently from the Yuan Dynasty of Ancient China. The bowl alone is quite larger than a very large honeydew melon. Renowned for their black and brown ceramic glazes, the style is one of the hallmarks of Mongol China. However the carved or sculpted floral motif is quite exceptional and quite uncommon. There are raised leaves and raised floral blossoms surrounding the entire circumference of the vase, from the neck all the way down to near the foot. The glaze remains entirely intact, uncommon for a jar of this age. The fact that the ceramic glaze does not quite reach the bottom of the vase is an intentional characteristic of this era’s produce. It allowed one unfired glazed piece to be stacked atop another inside of the kiln and baked without the two pieces sticking together. Fairly rare and certainly uncommon, you can see for yourself the rich and delightful dark brown finish and the raised, sculpted embellished pattern.
It possesses the normal blemishes (warts and dimples, zits and pits) one expects with ancient handcrafted earthenware, including a few pock marks (kiln blemishes) – most tiny, but one larger. This is where something mixed into the clay, such as organic material or something containing moisture, causing an explosive out-gassing while in the kiln, and the result is a little unglazed crater. These little blemishes are quite common with ancient ceramics and porcelains. There are quite a few such diminutive blemishes in this piece – but the only one of significant size is beneath the bottom of the bowl. So it is not visible except when the vase is turned upside down. However these are all potting blemishes the vessel was “born” with. The only “damage” sustained was a chip to the rim which reached beneath the rim – to the underside of the rim. Again, it was not really too noticeable except when the vase was turned upside down, but in any event the chip was restored in order to preserve the aesthetic qualities of the vase. It seems likely that there was also an (ancient?) chip in the rim’s porcelain, which was at some point touched up and reglazed.
Although it is probable that this specimen is much older, it is also possible that this piece might be a revivalist imitative produced for the European market of the 18th or 19th century. It is widely known that Chinese porcelain and other ceramic artwork was quite popular in Victorian Europe. Carrying Chinese porcelain from China to Europe was an industry for the seafaring mariners of the 16th, 17th, and 18th centuries. Entire fleets of sailing ships plied the trade, especially the Dutch and English. However in addition to porcelain, ancient Chinese ceramics were also extremely popular in Victorian Europe, where Chinese ceramic artwork was highly appreciated and in great demand.
Although the style of this specimen is very convincing and suggests it might indeed be of Yuan Dynasty origin, a large portion of the antique/ancient Chinese ceramics in Europe date to the 18th or 19th century, so it is quite possible that this is an imitative revival piece. Judging by the style it is likely considerably older, but only a $600 thermoluminescence test would establish this conclusively (and even then the reliability and accuracy of such testing is still debated). So we’ll simply err on the side of being conservative and suggest that you consider it a revival piece, and if it is indeed older, so much the better. However whether an antique several centuries old, or an antiquity a few centuries older, this is a valuable and collectible piece of art.
Other than the two repaired chips described above, and the ordinary kiln blemishes, there are few blemishes other than the normal scuffing and marring one ordinarily expects of such an artifact. Given the fact that such vases are generally recovered shattered into scattered shards, in comparison this is about as close to perfect as you will ordinarily find of an authentic vase like this. Of course realistically one would expect some blemishes in an artifact such as this, so there are no surprises here except that there are so few blemishes. Overall it is an exceptionally attractive piece, fairly uncommon, and a well preserved specimen of the ancient Chinese art of pottery. If you’d like an authentic ancient/antiqaue Mongol glazed earthenware vase to proudly display, you could not go wrong with this one. It is solidly shaped, nicely featured, and perfectly proportioned. It’s certainly not the ordinary jar of the era, and it is still very distinctive and handsome. Filled with dried foliage it would be very special. You could display this one 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 YUAN CERAMICS: The Mongol invasion of China led to the fall of the Song Dynasty, the rise of the Mongol Yuan Dynasty (1279-1368 A.D.), and a more cosmopolitan view of the world, broadening horizons and significantly altering Chinese. Important advances in porcelain techniques included underglaze porcelain; ground cobalt was mixed with water and painted on an unfired piece of porcelain. In the kiln, the blackish pigment turned a rich shade of blue, thus creating the famous tradition of blue-and-white ware. For centuries blue and white porcelain was produced not only for markets in China, but for export to the Muslim Middle East and Europe. Copper oxide was also used successfully as a decorative agent in the same way, creating the class of porcelains known as underglaze red. A growing demand for Chinese ceramics in the Middle East stimulated the Mongol rulers to boost ceramic output for export. Though the Mongol Yuan Dynasty was short-lived, it had a profound effect on the history of porcelain production for the next 600 years.
HISTORY OF THE YUAN DYNASTY: The history of the Yuan Dynasty (1275-1368 A.D.) is of Mongol rule – the first alien dynasty to rule China. By the mid-thirteenth century the Mongols under Kublai Khan, grandson of Genghis Khan, had conquered North China, Korea, the Muslim kingdoms of Central Asia - even twice penetrating Europe. With the resources of a vast empire, Kublai Khan turned his ambition against the Southern Sung Dynasty, which subsequently collapsed in 1279 A.D. Under the Mongol Yuan Dynasty, the Central Asian trade routes were entirely under Mongol control and more secure than ever before. Commercially oriented infrastructure improvements encouraged overland as well as maritime commerce.
Reciprocal trade between West and East increased correspondingly, and the increased contact with Western Asia and Europe brought about an enhanced degree of cultural exchange. The cultural diversity resulted in the development of drama, written novels, and increased use of the written language. Western musical instruments were introduced enriching performing arts. Advances were realized in the fields of travel literature, cartography and geography, and scientific education. Certain key Chinese innovations, such as printing techniques, porcelain production, playing cards, and medical literature, were introduced in Europe, while the production of thin glass and cloisonne became popular in China.
The first records of travel to China by Westerners date from this time, the most famous of course by Venetian Marco Polo. The Mongols undertook extensive public works. Roads, communications, and water distribution were reorganized and improved. Granaries were ordered built throughout the empire against the possibility of famines. As the terminus of a completely renovated Grand Canal, Beijing was rebuilt with new palace grounds that included artificial lakes, hills and mountains, and parks. Nonetheless discontent grew within China as Confucian officials and scholars resented Mongol restrictions against Chinese holding important offices. Inflation and oppressive taxes alienated Chinese peasants. During the 1330’s and 1340’s crop failures, famine, and the repeated flooding of several major rivers in North China led to uprisings in almost every province, and several major rebel leaders emerged. Aided by rivalry amongst competing Mongol heirs to the thrown, in the 1360s a former Buddhist monk turned rebel army leader was successful in extending his power throughout the Yangtze Valley and eventually overthrew the Mongol Yuan Dynasty.
HISTORY OF CHINESE EARTHENWARE: 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 5 pounds. Various rates for shipping both domestically and internationally may be viewed here. A wide variety of cost-effective methods are available including surface mail, air mail, and expedited mail.