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Between and Mortarboard

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Water Dropper

Accession Number

Water Dropper


Artist Nationality
Chinese (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
9th century

Medium & Support
glaze on earthenware

1 in x 2 1/16 in x 3 1/8 in (2.54 cm x 5.24 cm x 7.94 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Toshiko Ogita in memory of Tomoo Ogita

Subject matter
A dark glazed Changsha mingqi  (明器) (literally "bright objects") bird-shaped earthenware water dropper of the Tang dynasty (618-906).

During the ninth and tenth centuries, Changsha kilns produced a vast number of utilitarian pots and objects for daily use for both the overseas and domestic markets.  Made using a variety of hand-building, wheel throwing, and molding techniques, they often took on a variety of forms including animals, people and daily objects. A water dropper such as this would have been a standard accoutrement on a scholar’s desk.  It would have been used to slowly drop water on an ink-grinding stone until the ink reached the perfect consistency or dilution for calligraphy and painting.  

Physical Description
A small earthenware vessel in the form of a bird, with a flattened round body, two wings, and an outstretched beaked head and tail.  There is a mouth with a direct rim on top of the body, and it is covered in a dark brown glaze. 

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type
water dropper

Collection Area

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
birds (motifs)
calligraphy (process)
ceramics (object genre)
vessels (containers)

1 Related Resource

Cabinet H: Shelf 2
(Part of: Albertine Monroe-Brown Study-Storage Gallery)

& Author Notes

Web Use Permitted