Guan ware long-necked vase with raised bow-string decoration

Vase with mallet-shaped (chih-ch’iu p’ing) body and tall cylindrical neck, with two encircling ridges.
Clay: hard, fine, gray.
Glaze: lustrous waxy bluish-gray celadon; coarse brown crackle.

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Historical period(s)
Southern Song dynasty, 12th century
Stoneware with Guan glaze
Guan ware
H x W: 23.2 x 14.1 cm (9 1/8 x 5 9/16 in)
China, Zhejiang Province, Hangzhou
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Freer Gallery 15: Setting the Bar: Arts of the Song Dynasty
Ceramic, Vessel


China, Guan ware, Southern Song dynasty (1127 - 1279), stoneware, vase

To 1911
Chin Tung, China, to 1911 [1]

From 1911 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Chin Tung, China, in 1911 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Pottery List, L. 2119, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Chin Tung (C.L. Freer source)
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919


Vase with mallet-shaped (chih-ch'iu p'ing) body and tall cylindrical neck, with two encircling ridges.
Clay: hard, fine, gray.
Glaze: lustrous waxy bluish-gray celadon; coarse brown crackle.


When the Song dynasty (960–1279) court was located in north China, blue-green celadons called Ru ware were made exclusively for the palace. Characterized by a smooth glaze, either uncrazed or with faint marks like cracked ice, Ru wares provided a prototype for Guan ware, the official ware of the Southern Song (1127–1279) court, which relocated to modern-day Hangzhou. This mallet-shaped vase represents the finest of southern Guan ware. The shape of the vase resembles a mallet used to pound fibers in making paper. The direction of the crackle, here an intentional design feature, developed along stress lines created when the vessel was shaped.

Published References
  • James J. Lally. Arts of Asia Fiftieth Anniversary Featuring Fifty Favorite Objects. Vol. 50, No. 1 Wanchai, Hong Kong, January - February 2020. pg. 100.
  • Helen Nebeker Tomlinson. West Meets East: Charles L. Freer Trailblazing Asian Art Collector. Herndon, Virginia. Insert p. 17.
  • Basil Gray. Sung Porcelain and Stoneware. London. pl. L.
  • , Kawahara Masahiko, Nakazato Tarouemon XII. Toji taikei [Complete Collection of Far Eastern Ceramics]. 48 vols., Tokyo, 1972-1978. vol. 36.
  • James J. Lally. Collecting Chinese Ceramics in America: Morgan and Freer. vol. 73 London, 2008-2009. Cover, fig. 11.
  • Oriental Ceramics: The World's Great Collections. 12 vols., Tokyo. vol. 10, pl. 17.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. .
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 126, vol. 1: p. 178.
  • Martin P. Amt, Rob Barnard. In Praise of Feet. vol. 18, no. 2 Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, June 1990. p. 20.
  • Robert L. Hobson. Chinese, Corean [sic], And Japanese Potteries: Descriptive Catalogue of Loan Exhibtion of Selected Examples. New York. p. 60, entry 305.
  • Ideals of Beauty: Asian and American Art in the Freer and Sackler Galleries. Thames and Hudson World of Art London and Washington, 2010. pp. 74-75.
  • Jan Stuart. Guan ware Vase in the Freer Gallery of Art. vol. 50, no. 1 Hong Kong, Jan-Feb 2020. p. 100.
  • Jan Stuart. Guiding Luminaries Charles Lang Freer and John A. Pope: the Freer Gallery of Art's Chinese Ceramic Collection. vol. 85 London. p. 117, fig. 11.
  • Thomas Lawton. China's Artistic Legacy. vol. 118, no. 258 London, August 1983. p. 133.
  • Kitty Morgan. How to Buy a Masterpiece: Imperial Modern., November-December 2004. pp. 138-140.
  • Thomas Lawton, Linda Merrill. Freer: a legacy of art. Washington and New York, 1993. p. 219, fig. 150.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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