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Ancient China Zhou Chou Dynasty Clay Earthenware Impressed Design Jar Vase 500BC $249.99

For Customers outside of USA

Well Preserved Genuine Ancient Earthenware Impressed Jar/Vase BC500.

CLASSIFICATION: Earthenware Jar/Vase.

ATTRIBUTION: Ancient China, Zhou Dynasty. Spring and Autumn Period (770 to 476 B.C.).


Diameter: 140 millimeters (5 5/8 inches) at bowl; 94 millimeters (3 3/4 inches) at top lip.

Height: 98 millimeters (3 7/8 inches).

Note: Artificial foliage shown is available upon request.

CONDITION: Very good, complete and unrepaired. Little blemishes consistent with wear and then burial since ancient times. A few small rim chips, a couple of tiny hairline cracks. The typical blemishes of hand production (warts and dimples, zits and pits).

DETAIL: A complete, unrepaired medium sized impressed earthenware jar from the middle of the first millennium B.C. The term “impressed” means that a design was impressed into the still wet vessel before it was fired. More often than not this involved rolling the vase over a fibre mat, or pressing a piece of mat into the vessel, impressing a design into the still-wet clay. It is a good-sized piece, the size of a small melon. What’s really remarkable is that it is over 2,500 years old and is entirely complete. There is of course a collection of small rim chips, virtually obligatory with a ceramic vessel this old. And from those chips two very slight hairline cracks have evolved, as can be seen in the images here. However considering the age of the vessel, these are rather minor (and entirely customary and acceptable) blemishes. As well there is an assortment of tiny scuffs and abrasions which one would expect with an earthenware household utensil which was used and then spent several thousand years buried. Considering that the typical such specimen is recovered shattered into shards, this specimen is truly in remarkable condition.

There is an assortment of the normal blemishes (warts and dimples, zits and pits) one expects with earthenware crudely fashioned by hand. It might never make the grade as Wal*Mart merchandise – but as an authentic, 2,500 year old earthenware utensil it is marvelous. There are a series of circumferential riblets visible, top to bottom. This is evidence of the potter’s touch of course, the result of being turned on a wheel, adding character to the piece. Overall it is a very attractive piece, a nicely preserved intact specimen of the ancient Chinese art of pottery. If you’d like an authentic ancient earthenware vase to proudly display, you could not go wrong with this one. It is solidly shaped, nicely featured, and nicely proportioned. Filled with dried flowers for display, it would be a very handsome piece. You could showcase this with great pride either at work on your desk or at home. Either way, it will certainly generate curiosity and perhaps even a little envy! We can even include the foliage shown so the piece is ready for display or gift giving right out of the box!

HISTORY OF THE ZHOU DYNASTY: Sharing the language and culture of the preceding Shang Dynasty, the Zhou (Chou) Dynasty through conquest and colonization gradually enveloped much of North China. The Zhou dynasty lasted longer than any other, from 1027 to 221 B.C. The early decentralization of the Zhou Dynasty has oftentimes been compared to Europe’s medieval feudal system. However social organization in the Zhou Dunasty was more predicated upon family and tribal ties than feudal legal bonds. Philosophers of the period enunciated the doctrine of the "mandate of heaven", the notion that the ruler (the "son of heaven") governed by divine right. In reality the emperor shared power with the local lords. At times the local lords were oftentimes more powerful than the emperor. In the later dynasty, large scale conflicts oftentimes erupted between rival local lords (eventually culminating in the “Warring States” period).

The late Zhou Dynasty’s potpourri of city-states became progressively centralized, characterized by greater central control over local governments and systematic agricultural taxation. The iron-tipped, ox-drawn plow, together with improved irrigation techniques, brought higher agricultural yields, which, in turn, supported a steady rise in population. The growth in population was accompanied by the production of much new wealth, and a new class of merchants and traders arose. However in 771 B.C. the Zhou court was sacked, and its king was killed by invading barbarians who were allied with rebel lords. The Zhou retreated eastward relocating their capital city. Today historians divide the Zhou Dynasty into the Western Zhou (1027-771 B.C.) and Eastern Zhou (770-221 B.C.). The west was abandoned, and the power of the Eastern Zhou Dynasty gradually diminished.

The Eastern Dynasty itself is further divided by historians into two periods reflecting the accelerating fragmentation and disintegration of China. The first from 770 to 476 B.C. is called the Spring and Autumn Period. The second is known as the Warring States Period (475-221 B.C.), as China completely dissolved. Though marked by disunity and civil strife, these two periods marked an era of cultural advancements known today as the "golden age" of China. Commerce was stimulated by the introduction of coinage. The use of iron not only revolutionized the production of weaponry but also the manufacture of farm implements. An atmosphere of reform was the result of the competition between rival warlords to build strong and loyal armies, requiring increased economic production and a strong tax base.

This created a demand for ever-increasing numbers of skilled, literate officials and teachers (a “civil service”), recruited on merit. Public works such as flood control, irrigation projects, and canal digging were executed on a grand scale. Enormous walls were built around cities and along the broad stretches of the northern frontier. Many of the era’s intellectuals were employed as advisers by China’s rulers on the methods of government, war, and diplomacy. So many different philosophies developed during these two periods that the era is often referred to as “The Hundred Schools of Thought”. The period produced many of the great classical writings on which Chinese practices were to be based for the next two and one-half millennia, including those of Confucius (551-479 B.C.).

HISTORY OF ZHOU EARTHENWARE: During the Zhou (Chou) Dynasty (1027-221 B.C.), bronzes as well as ceramics became less religious or spiritual in nature, and were often given as wedding gifts for household decoration. Images of totemic animals and monsters gave way to colorful, abstract, ornamental, pieces often inlaid on the surface in gold or semiprecious stones. Bronze bells and mirrors were also popular during this period. In addition to glazed ceramics, there were new developments and styles in both wood sculpture and lacquerwork. Ceramic objects began to replace more expensive bronze vessels in tombs, and ceramics technology continued to advance.

HISTORY OF CHINESE CERAMICS: The first Chinese ceramics archaeologists have found date back more than 10,000 years. These were earthenware, which means they were made from clay and fired at the kind of low temperatures reached by a wood fire or simple oven. In China, most ceramics made before the Tang dynasty (600 A.D.) are earthenware. They may be glazed or unglazed, and are occasionally painted, often brightly colored. Stoneware ceramics are harder and less porous than earthenware and are fired at hotter temperatures—between 2100°F and 2400°F. At these high temperatures, the surface of the clay melts and becomes glassy. Although stoneware is usually waterproof, most stoneware ceramics are glazed for decoration. The glazes often contain ash, which allows the glaze to harden at stoneware temperatures.

During the Shang Dynasty (1600-1100 B.C.) bronze metallurgy superceded ceramics as the favored art form of the ruling class. However both the ceramic and the bronze industries evolved into complex systems of production that were supported by the aristocracy. Decorative designs rich in symbolism were created first in bronze were then imitated in clay. Chinese burial customs included the tradition of placing clay replicas of material possessions, animals and people in the tomb to accompany the deceased and serve them in the next life. Although archaeological finds have revealed that glazed pottery was produced as early as 1100 B.C. during the Zhou dynasty, the production of glazed wares was not common until about 200 B.C. during the Han Dynasty. However from about 1000 B.C. onwards during the Shang and Zhou dynasties, primitive porcelain wares emerged. Real porcelain wares appeared in the Han dynasty around 200 A.D. In the process of porcelain development, different styles in different periods blossomed.

The production of porcelain became widespread by about 500 A.D. Using a special clay with ground rock containing feldspar, a glassy mineral, the material was fired at very high temperatures above 2400°F. The surface of the clay melts at such high temperatures and becomes smooth as glass. Early porcelains were undecorated and were used by the Imperial court and exported as far as the Middle East. For instance during the Han Dynasty principally celadon (green) and black porcelain were mainly produced. The famous blue and white porcelain was created with blue paint made from cobalt and then covered with a clear glaze, which can withstand the high temperatures of the kiln. The technical and creative innovations of Chinese potters are unique accomplishments in the cultural heritage of the world. Today, archaeological excavation and research in China are revealing new sites and new examples of the genius of the Chinese potter.

HISTORY OF ANCIENT CHINESE CIVILIZATION: Want to know a little more about the history of human civilization in ancient China? Click right here.

A certificate of authenticity (COA) is available upon request. Artifacts are mailed from the USA. Due to its fragile nature this particular piece is only shipped in an oversized box with lots of Styrofoam peanuts. The cost for shipping this item includes delivery confirmation (you can track your shipment on-line at the USPS Web Site). Additional items shipped together do result in a discount. The shipping weight of this item is 2 pounds. Various rates for shipping both domestically and internationally may be viewed here. A wide variety of cost-effective methods are available including surface mail, air mail, and expedited mail.