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Ewer with Phoenix Head

Asian Art

On View: Asian Galleries, West, 2nd floor (China)

The Museum's Phoenix-Headed Ewer is a superb example of qingbai, or "blue-white" high-fire ceramic. The head is wonderfully carved and modeled, and truly ferocious in appearance. The earliest ceramic phoenix-headed ewers, or vaselike pitchers, date from the Tang Dynasty (A.D.618-907) and were inspired by gold and silver ewers with phoenix heads imported from Sassanian Persia. Maritime trade between China and Southeast Asia, the Philippines, and the islands of modern Indonesia greatly expanded during the early Song Dynasty in the late tenth century, and many examples of qingbai wares such as this Ewer were exported there.

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)
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Asian Galleries, West, 2nd floor (China)
    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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