Ewer with Phoenix Head
On View: Asian Galleries, West, 2nd floor (China)
The phoenix-head ewer is a high-fired white ware referred to in Chinese as qingbai (“bluish white”), as the luminous glaze is often tinged with blue. The earliest ceramic phoenix-headed ewers date from the Tang dynasty and were inspired by gold and silver prototypes imported from Sasanian Persia (224–651 C.E.). Maritime trade between China and the Philippines and Indonesia was greatly expanded during the early Song dynasty, in the late tenth century. Many examples of qingbai ware were exported either as luxury goods or as reciprocal gifts from China for tributary missions, according to “State Regulations of the Song Dynasty” (Song Hui Yao). When this piece was sold to the Brooklyn Museum in 1954, it was said that the previous owner was from Indonesia. Based on the fineness of the clay, it is thought that this ewer was made in the imperial kilns at Jingdezhen in Jiangxi province. It is believed not to be from the Xicun or Chao-an kiln sites in Guangzhou or other southern Chinese kilns that also produced qingbai wares for export to Southeast Asia.
Qingbai ware, stoneware, translucent glaze
ca. 10th century
Tang Dynasty to Song Dynasty
Tang to Song Dynasty
height: 14 9/16 in. (37 cm); diameter: 6 7/8 in. (17.5 cm) (show scale)
Ella C. Woodward Memorial Fund and Frank L. Babbott Fund
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Ewer with Phoenix Head, ca. 10th century. Qingbai ware, stoneware, translucent glaze, height: 14 9/16 in. (37 cm); diameter: 6 7/8 in. (17.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Ella C. Woodward Memorial Fund and Frank L. Babbott Fund, 54.7. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 54.7_side_right_PS9.jpg)
right, 54.7_side_right_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2024
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Large ewer with phoenix head.
Stoneware, when high fired turns a light grey-buff color.
Translucent glaze with tints of pale blue-green and sometimes pale buff.
Wheel made pot with molded phoenix head, handle and spout applied. Details in phoenix head incised. Three incised circles on body, two raised rings on neck.
Condition: generally good, although there are firing flaws in the glaze. The following pieces are missing: top center of phoenix crest, tips of ears and one half of spout.
This may well be a tenth century or early Sung example of 'ch'ing pai' ware. It was sold to the museum as coming (by a previous owner) from Indonesia. This ewer appears to be an export version of the famous phoenix-headed ewer from the Eumorfopoulos Collection in the British Museum.
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