Fine Rare Chinese Song / Yuan Dynasty Inscribed Buddhist Sanskrit Pottery Jar
This very rare and fascinating pottery jar was made around the 13th - 14th century 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, at the time a particularly isolated part of China. It is made from a relatively highly-fired grey pottery the surface colour varying in places from pale to dark grey although much of the surface is stained or covered in a thin layer of the reddish iron-rich Yunnan soil.
Whilst the clay was still soft, prior to firing, the outer surface of this jar was very neatly and precisely incised with characters in a Sanskrit-type script, the Buddhist script of the region at that time, although there is also a series of a few Chinese characters. These are not separate bands of characters, but in fact one long line of text in a spiral that starts at the top of the jar encircling it multiple times before ending right at the base, where the characters have been squashed small suggesting the writer ran out of space. We have not had the text translated but it undoubtedly relates to Buddhist scriptures or prayers.
The cover is also decorated, albeit very modestly, with a simple incised leaf pattern around its finial.
Height 24 cm. This is a fine example; the characters of the text have been quite deeply and crisply incised and the jar is in fine condition with no restoration or repair.
For information: these jars are relatively unknown and highly desirable. It is very difficult to find reference to them in English-language publications, although there are a couple of Chinese archaeological publications with similar vessels. They first appeared on the market around twenty years ago but were soon snapped up by eager collectors and dealers. We purchased those that we could at that time. Many examples were quite thinly-potted and damaged, necessitating various repairs. This is an exceptional example, as we hope the images show, and has been in our own private collection of Yunnan Buddhist vessels since purchase then and has not previously been offered for sale.
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