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Amphora-Shaped Vase, 7th or 8th century A.D.


The first high-fired stonewares with a white body and a transparent glaze were made in Hebei province at the end of the sixth century. Around the same time there appear the first three-color (sancai) glazes, which reach their height of technical and artistic development in the Tang dynasty. The three colors that made up the sancai palette were amber, green, and cream, the latter composed of a transparent glaze over a white slip. Throughout the Tang dynasty these colors were used both individually and in various combinations.

At this time, foreign goods and ideas were making their way along the silk route to the capital at Chang’an (modern-day Xi’an), impacting cosmopolitan Tang society and art. The influence of Central Asian, Hellenistic, and Persian models can be seen in the shapes and designs of many Tang vessels. This amphora-shaped vase, a typical shape of the Tang period, was modeled after Hellenistic Greek prototypes. It has been trans-lated into a Chinese idiom through the substitution of double-stranded loop handles, ending in dragon’s heads biting the rim, for the ordinary loop variety, and by the use of a single-color glaze. The finely crackled, barely tinted glaze falls in a graceful swag that separates the glossy upper body from the unglazed portion below.



(N. V. Hammer, Inc., New York), by 1969;

purchased by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1969.

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