Large Chinese Neolithic Machang Pottery Jar (with painted symbol) Liuwan Type
This large pottery jar was made over 4,000 years ago during the Machang phase (c. 2300 - 2000 BC) of the Majiayao culture, also known as the Gansu-Yangshao culture, from present day Gansu or Qinghai province. It is relatively highly-fired and made from a pale reddish-brown pottery, the surface colour of which varies due to uneven conditions during firing in the Neolithic kiln. On opposing sides just below its waist are two sturdy loop handles. The upper body, as well as the inside of the mouth, has been coated in a dark brown wash, on top of which, in fired-on mineral-based pigment, is a decorative pattern, quite "crisply drawn" featuring four roundels, containing two different geometric patterns. In places on the surface are "calcified" deposits from its long burial.
Examples of Machang phase pottery of this type with the distinctive brown wash below the painted design, have been excavated from Liuwan village, Ledu county in Qinghai province and date to the middle of the Machang period.
Very interesting and unusual is the purposely painted symbol to the lower body, in the same fired-on pigment. This symbol pre-dates the written Chinese language so there is no way of knowing what it represents.
Height 30.5 cm (12 inches). Diameter 27.5 cm (10.75 inches). Overall condition, in view of its great age, is very good. The edge of one handle is chipped and the edge of the vulnerable flared rim has been repaired..
For further reading, including details of Liuwan Machang phase pottery, and similar painted symbols, we highly recommend "The Archaeology of Ancient China" (4th edition) by Kwang-chih Chang, a "must have" for any serious collector of Chinese Neolithic pottery.
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