Important Cultural PropertyColor-glazed jar with two dragon-shaped handles

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  • 1 piece
  • H47.4 aperture D11.4 bottom D10.0
  • Tang period/8th century
  • Tokyo National Museum
  • TG-647

This is one of the best works of color-glazing (sansai, lit. triple-color) from the Tang period. The bulb-shaped body, the neck supporting the disc-shaped moth and the dragon-shaped handles on both sides, together form the solid and graceful appearance. The style of jar with dragon-shaped handles is said to have come from the Western Land. It suited the taste for the exotic in the Tang period and many jars of that type were made either in white porcelain or in color-glazing. This piece has three large punched `medallions' with a precious-flower motif (hōsōgemon) decorating its body.
The techniques of color-glazing, which were developed fully in the Tang period, are used freely in the glazing: The glazes are applied carefully and differently on different places such as the necks of the dragons or the bumps on the dragons' backs, while vivid green and brown glazes flow down and mix on the body, making an effective contrast with the white spots left uncolored by the technique called rōnuki (lit. left uncolored by wax). This monumental piece is a synthesis of different traditions and techniques: Dragons, a traditional Chinese motif, are combined with the jar-design from the Western Land, while the medallions appear to be inspired by metalwork and the techniques of glazing have much in common with those of dying.