Han dynasty (206 BCE-220 CE)
ca 25 cm high


Description: The type of earthenware cocoon shaped jars evolved in Qin Kingdom during Warring States (475-221 BCE) period and became popular during Han dynasty (206 BCE – 220 CE). This shape resembles a silkworm cocoon. This was inspired by the well-developed silk industry during the Han dynasty during Han dynasty. They were primarily used for storage, such as water and wine, giving that the neck is narrow and flared. These jars were often utilised as a part of the burial culture to accompany the deceased in the afterlife. They were also employed by the army as an inspection tool to detect enemy’s march. All cocoon shaped jars were made of grey clay, but some appear to be burnished on the surface while others were decorated using cold painting method with vermillion and white slip. The colours of this jar have been well preserved showing on the body three vertical red bands interspaced with swirly cloud patterns. During this time, Daoism as a Chinese original religion was adopted by the imperial court. This kind of cloud motif is the most representative of Han dynasty decoration, depicting Daoist heaven and immortality.

Provenance: A British collection

Reference: For a similar jar of this type, see the collection from the Metropolitan Museum of Art https://www.metmuseum.org/art/collection/search/44332