A Glazed Pottery Pouring Vessel

Northern Dynasties (386-581 AD)
Reference #: PE1380

Height: 9 ¾ inches (24.8 cm.)
Length: 10 ¼ inches (26 cm.)

The hollow vessel modeled in the form of a recumbent mythical beast with small paws tucked beneath the body and the tail curling above the left hind leg, the head raised in a growl forming a cylinder-like opening exposing the sharp teeth, the head detailed with wide eyes, small ears and curling whiskers that form eyebrows and emanate from the cheeks, the faceted handle attached from the back of the head to the lower spine of the beast. The body and base covered with an iridescent, crackled pale green glaze that forms drips on around the bottom edge of the base.

The shape of this ceramic vessel is called huzi (little tiger) and appears to have a long history in China. First produced in bronze in the Western Han dynasty, early examples of this shape also inspired manifestations in lacquer and wood. Later, in the fourth century, such lion or tiger shaped vessels with thick, rope-like handles became a standard product of the Yue kilns. Some fourth-century variations do exist and are probably the result of local production.

Related versions from the Northern dynasties do exist, however, with variations in the green glaze and the decoration. Strong and animated, the present example displays only he curled eyebrows and whiskers as decoration, with the finely crackled glaze emphasizing the contours of the form.

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