Rare Chinese Martavan. A martavan is a large stoneware or highly fired earthenware storage jars. Martavans were made by the Chinese in the ports of Maraban and Burma to ship goods to India and the near east. Their primary function was to store goods for shipment. Martavans were also used to store tuak, rice wine. The drinking of rice wine during social ceremonies was very important and these martavans were central to social and ceremonial events as people would gather around and drink from them. In the 17th century the Japanese prized these jars for effectively preserving tea, a delicacy. As trade from China ceased, these jars became very valuable and were indicative of a man's wealth. They were used as collateral to secure loans.
This Martavan has lions heads along the top of the vessel and is glazed in the characteristic dark brown associated with martavans. Openings underneath the lions' heads held a rope. It is incised with a dragon. It measures 23" tall and 7.5" wide at the mouth. 14-16th century.