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Ancient Chinese Pottery and Ceramics

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Neolithic Period Pottery
Neolithic Storage Jar. Yang Shao. Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Neolithic Storage Jar. Yang Shao. Minneapolis Institute of Arts

Paul Gill
Early ceramics, during the Neolithic period (before bronze) were mostly utilitarian or ritual vessels made of clay and, generally, painted. By 4000 B.C. there were kilns in northern China that could reach 100 C. By 2000 years later, they were using a potter's wheel. There were variations in the appearance of these vessels depending on which ancient neolithic Chinese culture they came from. Among these cultures, there are Miao-ti-kou (4000-3000 B.C.), Ma-jia-yao/Yang-shao (4000-2000 B.C.), and Lung shan (3000-2000 B.C.).

This earthenware vessel was made by hand and has striations. Jars like this were used to pull water from river pools, but could also be used in funeral rituals. Yang Shao culture corresponds with modern Henan, Shaanxi, and Shanxi.

Yang Shao Water Vessel (5000-4000 B.C.) 31 1/8 x 8 7/8 in. (79.06 x 22.54 cm) MIA
For more information on Neolithic China, see:
  • "Archeology of Ancient China," by Kwang-Chih Chang. Science, New Series, Vol. 162, No. 3853 (Nov. 1, 1968), pp. 519-526.
  • "A New Vision of Classical China," by John H. Douglas. Science News, Vol. 106, No. 25/26 (Dec. 21-28, 1974), pp. 394-396.
For more information on the items of Chinese Pottery from the Minneapolis Institute of Arts, see Guide to Chinese Ceramics - The Art of Asia

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