Pair of green glazed vases, Hu

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Eastern Han Dynasty, 206 BC - 220 AD
Glazed earthenware
34 cm

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A pair of hu, pottery vases, covered in a green glaze. The vases are pear-shaped, flaring outwards at the neck with a stepped mouth and standing on a tall foot. On both sides of the vase is a large and well defined taotie mask with a mock ring. On the shoulder and belly of the hu vases are three grooved lines.

The vases are burial gifts; the green glaze is a poisonous low-fired (around 800°c) lead glaze applied on soft earthenware, which is not ideal for everyday use. Copper in the glaze provides a beautiful iridescent metallic color. The form of the vases is based on the bronze hu vessel of the Warring States Period.  

Similar green-glazed hu vases dated to the Han dynasty, comparable in shape, size and decoration, are respectively in the collections of the Metropolitan Museum of Art,the British Museum, the Fitzwilliam Museum, and the National Museum of History in Taiwan. A further comparable green glazed pottery vase, excavated from a Western Han tomb in Luoyang in 1953, is in the collection of the Henan Provincial Museum. 


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