One of three principal Neolithic cultures of China, Yangshao culture (c. 5000–1500 B.C.) is identified primarily by buff or reddish clay pottery vibrantly painted with black and crimson patterns of parallel, curving, or cross-hatched lines. Predating the development of bronze technology, Yangshao pottery is a testament to the remarkable skill in firing and decorating ceramics in Neolithic China, and was fundamental to the extraordinary development in Chinese ceramic art that followed.
Painted pottery was commonly included as part of Neolithic tomb furnishings. This jar, painted with a free hand in an imaginative geometric design, was probably used to hold food or liquids buried with the dead. Hand coiled and burnished on a slow-turning wheel before painting, Yangshao vessels are notable for their generous form and great vitality of design. The bold, abstract decoration, dominated by round medallions, checkerboards, cross-hatching, and concentric bands, together with the swelling form of this jar, illustrate the imaginative creativity of early Chinese pottery that has made these vessels so appealing to modern sensibilities.
Mr. and Mrs. S. Roger Horchow, Dallas;
acquired by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, gift of Mr. and Mrs. S. Roger Horchow, Dallas, 1987.