Accession Number



Artist Nationality
Chinese (culture or style)

Object Creation Date
2600 BCE - 2300 BCE

Medium & Support
earthenware with slip and mineral pigment

11 3/4 in x 10 7/16 in x 10 7/16 in (29.85 cm x 26.51 cm x 26.51 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Domino's Pizza, Inc.

Subject matter
A mortuary urn or guan (罐) jar of the Neolithic Banshan phase (2600 BCE-2300 BCE) of Majiayao Culture from Banshan, Gansu of the Yellow River Valley. Discovered by Johan Gunnar Andersson in 1921, by the 1980s approximately 60,000 items and 400 kilns had been discovered at Majiayao sites (He Li 1996, 22). They were found in subterranean graves with conical bases placed into the local loess soil, and because the decoration is consistently only on the top portion of the jar, it can be assumed they were meant to be viewed from above. It may be impossible to know the meaning behind this decoration.  The two lug handles were probably used to tie down a wooden, or other decomposable material, lid. An abundance of this type of guan were made with similar proportions, which suggests the use of a mathematical module, standardization, assembly line style mass production and the possible division of labor during the Neolithic period (Poor 1995, 166).

He, Li. Chinese Ceramics: a New Comprehensive Survey From the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. New York: Rizzoli, 1996. 

Poor, Robert.  "The Circle and the Square: Measure and Ritual in Ancient China" Monument Serica 43 (1995), 159-210.

Physical Description
A light reddish-buff earthenware guan (罐) jar with a wide globular upper body and conical lower body on a narrow flat base, and a tall wide neck with rim articulation. Two diametrically opposed lug handles at the waist and sawtooth-edge ears are applied to the rim. The upper half of the body is painted with black and red pigments to depict thick red bands alternating with sets of three thin black bands, contained within thick black saw-tooth edge borders. A zigzag line border within solid black bands are below. Around the neck is a red band defining the neck from the shoulder, above which is a thick black sawtooth edge band, and a network pattern contained within two solid black bands, one of which finishes the rim.  

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