Grain server (yu)

Gray pottery bowl in shape of yu. Bowl-shaped vessel, wheel-thrown, with high foot rim added.
Clay: unglazed pottery clay; surface lightly burnished and gray. Accretions of earth.
Decoration: Three pairs of horizontal lines on the body incised while the piece was still turning on the wheel, apparently with the use of a carved rib or die. Another horizontal line on the foot. Four small rectangular flanges, with incised horizontal lines, applied equidistantly around the vessel between the top and middle pairs of horizontal lines. The rest of the space between those two pairs of horizontal lines filled by closely spaced vertical lines, incised free hand.

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Historical period(s)
Anyang period, Late Shang dynasty, ca. 1250-1050 BCE
Medium
Unglazed gray earthenware
Dimensions
H x Diam: 11 × 16.8 cm (4 5/16 × 6 5/8 in)
Geography
China, probably Henan province, Anyang
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1984.28
On View Location
Sackler Gallery 23b: Anyang: China's Ancient City of Kings
Classification(s)
Ceramic, Vessel
Type

Container (yu)

Keywords
China, Shang dynasty (ca. 1600 - ca. 1050 BCE)
Provenance

J.E. Melchior, Shanghai [1]

To 1982
Helen D. Ling (died 1982), Shanghai and Singapore, acquired from J.E. Melchior, to 1982 [2]

From 1982 to 1984
Dr. Tien Gi Ling, Singapore, bequeathed by Helen D. Ling in 1982 [3]

From 1984
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Dr. Tien Gi Ling in 1984 [4]

Notes:

[1] According to information supplied by Dr. Ling, Helen Dalling Ling acquired this object from the J.E. Melchior collection. Helen Dalling Ling operated The Green Dragon antiques shop in Shanghai from 1938 to 1950, and a shop under her own name in Singapore from 1951 to 1982 (see Curatorial Note 5 in object record).

[2] According to Curatorial Note 5 in object record.

[3] Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List after 1920 file, Collections Management Office.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Mr. Tien Gi Ling
J.E. Melchior Collection
Helen D. Ling died 1982

Description

Gray pottery bowl in shape of yu. Bowl-shaped vessel, wheel-thrown, with high foot rim added.
Clay: unglazed pottery clay; surface lightly burnished and gray. Accretions of earth.
Decoration: Three pairs of horizontal lines on the body incised while the piece was still turning on the wheel, apparently with the use of a carved rib or die. Another horizontal line on the foot. Four small rectangular flanges, with incised horizontal lines, applied equidistantly around the vessel between the top and middle pairs of horizontal lines. The rest of the space between those two pairs of horizontal lines filled by closely spaced vertical lines, incised free hand.

Label

Shang dynasty gray wares were inexpensive substitutes for the more costly bronze ritual vessels.  This sturdy, high-footed bowl was turned on a wheel.  The applied bosses and incised vertical decoration are derived from contemporary bronze prototypes.

Published References
  • Sarah Booth. The Freer's Rare Catch: Gallery Acquires 30 Flawless Ancient Chinese Ceramics. Washington, May 23, 1984. p. B2.
  • H. W. Siegel, Helen D. Ling. Early Chinese Potteries and Porcelains of the Shang, Chou, Chin, Han Dynasties: Collection of the Late J.E. Melchior. Shanghai. cat. 1.16.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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