From the end of the Warring States period through the Han dynasty (206 B.C.–A.D. 220), glazed stoneware vessels were routinely produced in northern Zhejiang and southern Jiangsu provinces to serve as funerary storage jars. These vessels, many of which derive their shapes from bronze prototypes, are typically decorated in an overall stamped pattern, or with a combination of incised lines and raised bands or ribs. Their glaze, restricted to the upper surfaces, was probably produced by sifting dry wood-ash, or a mixture of dry clay and ash, over the damp pots before firing. These proto-porcelaneous wares are the predecessors of the finer kaolin-clay, high-fire wares developed toward the end of the Tang dynasty (A.D. 618–907).
The shape of the jar, as well as its lug handles, imitates bronze jian (ritual water vessels), but in the process of simulation, the potter has adapted the form and decoration to this older and more venerable art form. The smooth, regular profile is evidence of being worked on a potter’s wheel. It was probably placed in a tomb burial and would have contained foodstuffs for the deceased.
(P. C. Lu Works of Art, Ltd., Hong Kong);
purchased by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1995.