Accession Number



Artist Nationality
Chinese (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
circa 1900-1930

Medium & Support
glaze on earthenware

8 in x 7 3/16 in x 3 11/16 in (20.4 cm x 18.2 cm x 9.4 cm)

Credit Line
Transfer from the College of Architecture and Design

Subject matter
This sancai (三彩, literally "three color") ewer of the Republic period (1912-1949) is an imitation of Tang dynasty (618–907) sancai ware. During the Republic period, many ceramic wares were made in imitation of those from previous dynasties to be sold as antiques, especially to foreigners. 

Sancai was one of the most brilliant innovations of Tang dynasty potters. Working with the same clay used to produce white wares, potters added iron, copper, and cobalt oxide colorants to create the typical three-color palette of cream, amber, olive green and cobalt blue. Sancai ware can contain any combination of just two to all four colors.  Cobalt oxide was a new import from Persia and was a key component in the development of the three-colored glaze palette.  Lead flux made it possible for these colored glazes to fuse to the earthenware body at relatively low kiln temperatures. It also allowed glazes to run, which made them very difficult to control, yet aesthetically appealing.

Sancai flourished from around 680 to 750 under the patronage of the Tang elite for the production of tomb figurines and mingqi (“bright vessels”), or funerary pottery. After the domestic market collapsed, Chinese potters adopted new vessel types in a successful attempt to find overseas markets. Shards of these later wares have been found as far away as Sri Lanka, Iraq, Egypt, Japan, and parts of Southeast Asia. Potters working as far away as Iran sought to replicate sancai wares using local materials.

Physical Description
This is an earthenware globular ewer on a tall flaring footring. It has a tall flaring neck with a coil ear-shaped handle extending from shoulder to belly. An "S" shaped spout extends up from the lower belly, which is stamped with floral designs and covered in green, amber, and cream glazes. 

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type

Collection Area

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
ewers (vessels)
figures (representations)
three-color ware (Chinese ware)

6 Related Resources

Cobalt & Blue
(Part of: Exchange and Influence on Global Trade Routes)
F19 Tsai - INTLSTD 401: The Globalized Ancient World
(Part of 2 Learning Collections)
The Ceramic Road: Cultural Exchange in Asian Ceramics
(Part of: Exchange and Influence on Global Trade Routes)

& Author Notes

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