Six Dynasties, 4th century
Reference #: PE1358
Height: 6 ½ inches (16.5 cm.)
Diameter of mouth: 6 ¾ inches (17.1 cm.)
Shanghai Museum, illustrated in National Bureau of Cultural Relics 1995, number 100, page 208.
The grey stoneware jar of compressed globular form with short, cylindrical neck applied with two pierced lug handles, supported on a short foot with slightly recessed, flat base. The neck and body incised with a series of horizontal line bands, applied on the shoulders with a small frog head, appendages and tail. All but the interior of the flat base covered in an olive-green tone glaze.
The rule of China, so drastically divided after the fall of the Han, was briefly united in the Six Dynasties, under the Jin dynasty, which reigned in two periods, Western (265-316) and Eastern (317-420).1 Yue wares of this period, termed such after the ancient name of the Zhejiang area, are typically grey in body and covered with a stable and uncrackled olivy-green glaze. The thick, stoneware bodies, fired at some 1200° C, were impermeable even without a glaze and thus were very durable for both quotidian and burial use.2 The richly applied olive-green-tone glazes probably derived from the earlier ash glazes found on proto-porcelains of the Warring States and the Han. Krahl explains that these first glazes were probably discovered by accident, but by the Three Kingdoms the more refined, celadon-type glazes had been developed at the Yue kilns.3
Other small vessels with zoomorphic features were made during this prolific period. Jars with beast and bird-like faces and appendages, as well as ram-form wine pots and bear-form candleholders are examples of such vessels, all created as functional household objects.4