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Vase with Fish and Foliate Scroll Design, 14th century


Cizhou is the designation for a large and varied group of cream-colored stonewares decorated with painted designs under a transparent glaze, or by incising, stamping, or carving into a colored slip. First developed in the Song period (960–1279) and named for the kilns in the Cizhou area of Hebei province, they were made throughout north China from the tenth to the fifteenth century. While there is a considerable variety of slips, glazes, and vessel shapes, all Cizhou wares share a distinctive decoration in which large-scale motifs play on the contrast of light and dark tones. Cizhou wares are somewhat unrefined and were generally made for everyday utilitarian use in the homes of the middle class.

This vase’s bold design of large foliate scrolls and fish was achieved by incising and removing areas of a dark brown slip that had been applied to the whole vase. Initially, the slip was cut away from the lower third of the jar to reveal the cream-colored body of the stoneware. The deeply incised outlines of the floral design and some details, most notably the eyes and the scale pattern of the fish, were then cut through the remaining slip. Finally, the background area of the floral design was scraped away. The result is a striking design that exploits the juxtaposed contrast of light and dark tones, and the differing textures of the glossy slip and matte stoneware.



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

purchased by Kimbell Art Foundation, Fort Worth, 1970.

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