The Bodhisattva Collection

A Rare Song Dynasty Buddhist Vessel with Oxford TL Test

A Rare Song Dynasty Buddhist Vessel with Oxford TL Test

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Chinese: Pottery: Pre 1492: Item # 937193
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From our Early Chinese Collection, a rare glazed buddhist offering vessel with Oxford TL test from Yunnan Province, Song Dynasty China (960-1279 AD). The reddish-tinged and heavily potted buff body is decorated with a carved lotus leaf pattern in high relief, signifying “purity,” with the entire vessel covered in a rich emerald-green glaze with a few areas of slight iridescence from burial.

This offering vessel is one of the best examples we have seen from a group of highly obscure and esoteric pottery pieces hailing from Yunnan Province in Southwestern China. The formal scholarship on these pieces is unfortunately thin at best, and we are currently aware of only one publication addressing these pieces at all, which is Michael Teller's "Offering Vessels of Yunnan." As Teller explains, the exact purpose of these jars is still not fully settled, but it is believed they are offering vessels of some type, with many having been found containing such things as cowrie shells, copper and bronze discs, paper, beads, fabrics, and other items. Most of these vessels are handcrafted and not molded, and vary considerably in quality of the potting. What makes this particular example especially fine and rare amongst an already rare group, is the fact that unlike the vast majority that are decorated with applied motifs of buddhist emblems, vajra, zodiac symbols and so forth, this piece is decorated solely with a carved lotus leaf pattern in high relief. Teller himself on page 47 says when speaking about another similar piece: "Although the lotus petal is a commonly used motif in green glazed Yunnan vessels, the vast majority use applied, impressed, and lightly incised decoration, rather than this simple high relief carved petal design." Additionally, this piece is especially well-potted, well-balanced, and with a superbly preserved glaze that belies its true age, which has been TL tested to the Song Dynasty (making this piece one of the earliest in the group).

Size and Condition: 15 inches tall, 9 3/4 inches wide, various minor glaze losses and minor chipping, a firing crack to base original to the piece. Overall superb condition, and a hefty piece weighing approximately 10 pounds.