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Ewer with Phoenix Head

Asian Art

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.
MEDIUM Qingbai ware, stoneware, translucent glaze
  • Place Made: China
  • DATES ca. 10th century
    DYNASTY Tang Dynasty to Song Dynasty
    PERIOD Tang to Song Dynasty
    DIMENSIONS height: 14 9/16 in. (37 cm); diameter: 6 7/8 in. (17.5 cm)  (show scale)
    COLLECTIONS Asian Art
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Asian Galleries, West, 2nd floor (China)
    EXHIBITIONS
    ACCESSION NUMBER 54.7
    CREDIT LINE Ella C. Woodward Memorial Fund and Frank L. Babbott Fund
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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    CAPTION 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_detail_03_PS9.jpg)
    IMAGE detail, 54.7_detail_03_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2019
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION 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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