Phoenix-headed Ewer



Period China, Tang dynasty, 8th century
Materials and techniques Earthenware with three-colour glaze
Size H.27.8 MD.4.8 D.12.3 BD.9.5


The shape of this ewer originates from the oinochoe of Greece, but it was imported into China by way of the Persian phoenix-headed jars of the Sassanian Empire. The ewer, representing a (garuda) phoenix with a sacred jem held between its beaks, was made with a two-part mold, and is attached with a handle in the shape of a plant stalk. Its round body is ornamented on both sides with a jewel-shaped window decorated with vine scrolls, in the center of which is a design of a beast-mask in relief. The relatively high conical foot is decorated with flower petals in relief, and the base is flat and unglazed. The ewer is covered overall with a green glaze, and in parts of the motifs, such as the beast-mask and vine scrolls, with a yellow glaze. It is an excellent example displaying glazes of especially wonderful colors.