Rare Chinese Song / Yuan Dynasty Buddhist Jar - Chinese & Sanskrit Script
This very rare jar was made during the Song Dynasty (AD 960 - 1279) or possibly the Yuan Dynasty (AD 1279 - 1368) and has been excavated from a Buddhist site in Yunnan province, then ,a particularly isolated part of China. Whilst the clay was still soft, prior to firing, the outer surface of this jar was incised with characters of Buddhist sutras. Although initial sight suggests these are bands of characters around the jar, they are in fact a long line of characters that spiral their way down the jar from top to bottom.
Most unusually, the long line of script starts with Chinese characters, followed almost entirely by a Sanskrit-type script, although there are more Chinese characters around two thirds down, and around the base.
The cover has also been decorated, having been extremely neatly incised with a geometric pattern centered around an eight-pointed star, or wheel. Although very difficult to see, the underside of the cover has Sanskrit-type characters in red pigment.
The surface colour of the pottery, under the iron-rich Yunnan burial soil, varies from almost white to a dark grey, this due to uneven conditions in the kiln during firing.
Still adhering to the inner surface of the jar are a couple of tiny specks of gold leaf from the original contacts of the jar. Although we do not know what those contents were, similar Yunnan Buddhist jars are sometimes referred to as "offering vessels".
Height 22.5 cm (8.75 inches). An outstanding and interesting example in very good condition. This vessel is available to view at our gallery.
For information: similar vessels first appeared on the market several years ago but were soon snapped up by eager collectors with only a few still remaining available for sale from sellers such as ourselves who purchased those that we could at the time. They were originally optimistically dated as being from the Five Dynasties period (AD 907 - 960) but research and TL tests suggest they are not quite as early as that.
This jar has been in our own private collection of Yunnan Buddhist vessels for many years and is an exceptional example of its type. It has not previously been offered for sale.
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