China, Early Tang Dynasty / Ewer / c. 675-725China, Early Tang Dynasty
c. 675-725

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Chinese
Creator Dates/Places: China
Creator Active Place: China
Creator Name-CRT: China, Early Tang Dynasty
Title: Ewer
Title Type: Primary
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 675
Creation End Date: 725
Creation Date: c. 675-725
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Classification Term: Ceramic
Materials and Techniques: stoneware with green glaze and incised, molded, modeled, and applied decoration
Dimensions: Overall: 42.1cm
AMICA Contributor: The Cleveland Museum of Art
Owner Location: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
ID Number: 1989.2
Credit Line: John L. Severance Fund
Context: Paths across the vast Central Asian desert did more than facilitate the travel of Buddhist missionaries and pilgrims to and from China. They also provided a course for the exchange of goods between China and the West. The fabled Silk Road--actually a series of highways and byways linking settlements and oases from western China to northern India and Iran--was the way that textiles and ceramics reached the West in return for metalwork and glass. These imported luxury goods profoundly influenced indigenous artistic traditions at both ends of the road. The effects of East-West trade are illustrated in this striking green-glazed ewer. The large ovoid vessel stands on a small ring foot and tapers to a narrow ribbed neck. An exotic bird perching at the top serves as the spout, and its long arched tail functions as the handle. Other birds appear elsewhere on the vessel in the five rings of the main ornamental register. The irregularly shaped spaces between these circles are filled with curly elements arranged to suggest clouds above plants. Plants are also featured in the band above, with each of ten small circular frames enclosing a different botanical type. These two registers are bordered by belts of jewel-like motifs and lotus petals executed in molded clay. The shape, structure, and decoration of this ewer can be traced to silver vessels manufactured in Sassanian Iran and districts of Central Asia that were influenced by its designs. Unlike early ceramic varieties native to China, these foreign metal types were bulbous and fitted with a spreading ring foot. They were decorated not with subtly outlined forms but with hammered relief patterns frequently featuring large roundels with humans, animals, birds, and plants. The conversion of a foreign metal prototype to the medium of clay may have inspired the particular Chinese potter of the Cleveland ewer to try an unusual decorative technique involving slender rolls of clay. Strangely, the result does not effectively simulate the hammered designs found on metalwork, but instead recalls the more linear decor characteristic of Mediterranean glassware embellished with applied glass strands. Such glassware was known in China and may have influenced the methods of the potter. Possibly because the rolled clay technique was much more time-consuming than molding, it did not gain favor and is virtually unknown elsewhere. K.W.
AMICA ID: CMA_.1989.2
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, The Cleveland Museum of Art

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