Large Chinese Western Han Dynasty Painted Pottery Steamer Tripod with Bear Feet (with Oxford TL Test)
This impressive pottery vessel was made over 2,000 years ago during the Western Han Dynasty (206 BC - AD 8). It is made from a relatively high-fired grey pottery that has been "cold painted" in various coloured pigments. The lower section stands on three very elaborate moulded feet in the form of sitting bears. The lower part of a couple of the bear feet are a little squashed, this having occurred during manufacture when the clay was still soft. On opposite sides to the upper surface have been applied moulded taotie mask ring handles. The cover, when placed upside down, fits nicely over the lower section. However, when turned over, it stands on top of the lower section showing that this is in fact a cooking vessel - the lower section is filled with water and placed over a fire whilst the steam generated comes through the five holes in the base of the cover cooking its contents. Although it is full-size, as opposed to a scaled-down model, it was clearly never intended to actually be used, as both inner and outer surfaces have been painted. The outer surfaces of both upper and lower sections are decorated in the typical Western Han swirling cloud and geometric patterns.
The total height is 36.5 cm (14.25 inches), diameter 27 cm (10.5 inches). Looking inside the lower part reveals a couple of firing cracks to the wall where the pottery is quite thick. This has been filled on the outer surface (see image showing underside). There is also a small section of the edge of the cover that has been re-stuck. Overall condition however, as we hope our images clearly show, is very good. This item is available for inspection at our gallery.
As with many of our finer items, we have had this vessel tested by Oxford Authentications, the only testers of ancient pottery accepted by all major dealers, auction houses and museums worldwide, and the Thermoluminescence Analysis Report that will accompany this item is shown with our pictures below; this confirms the date of manufacture as "between 1500 and 2400 years ago".
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