Ceramics in Mainland Southeast Asia:
Collections in the Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery

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Covered jar

  • Stoneware with celadon glaze
  • 8 x 8.8 cm
  • Longquan ware
  • 14th century, Yuan dynasty
  • Origin: Longquan kilns, Longquan, Zhejiang province, China
  • Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
  • F1977.11a-b


Covered Jar, of kuan shape, moulded in two sections. Edge of cover projects in waved contour. Chips on underside of cover, and a few very small chips in foot-rim.
Clay: porcelain, off-white, browned slightly from oxidation where exposed.
Glaze: olive-green celadon covers outside of jar and lid except for edge of mouth and foot-rim; also covers inside of jar, base, inside of lid except for projection.
Decoration: vertical ribbing with top of ridges appearing light due to glaze being thinner than in the channels. Center of cover has moulded, raised eleven-petalled floral medallion. Edge of cover has been lifted in five places to produce a leaf-like waving contour.

Published References

1. Murray, Julia K. 1979. A Decade of Discovery: Selected Acquisitions, 1970–1980. Washington, DC: Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, 32.

Curatorial Remarks

1. (J. Knapp, 1978) The dealer identification as "Northern Celadon" is wrong. This jar is of a type usually found among export wares. There are a number in the Locsin Collection which were excavated in the Philippines. See Locsin and Locsin 1967, color pl. 57, for an example of much better color. Similar jars were among the relics salvaged from the old Chinese wreck in the sea off Sinan, Korea, in 1976–1977, and which can be dated to the period 1320–1330, and assigned to the southern Longquan and related kilns. See Kungnip Chungang Pangmulgwan, 1977, color pl. 11 and fig. 315. This example has an atypical, and not most desirable, glaze color. F1909.355 or F1916.3, of the same period, can be used as reference for a more usual and better color.

Locsin, Leandro, and Cecilia Locsin. 1967. Oriental Ceramics discovered in the Philippines. Rutland, VT and Tokyo: Charles E. Tuttle Co.

Kungnip Chungang Pangmulgwan. 1977. Special Exhibition of Relics Off Sinan Coast. Soeul: Kungnip Chungang Pangmulgwan.

2. (Entry 22, A Decade of Discovery, 1979) The green-glazed pottery known as Longquan ware has its origins in the Yue ware that began in Chekiang in the third century. Longquan ware first appeared as an identifiable type in the late Five Dynasties period with the decline of Yue ware, reaching its peak of perfection in the late Southern Sung period. Popular as export ware as well as for the domestic market, Longquan celadon is marked by its unctuous glaze, which may range in color from grayish or bluish to olive or powdery green.

This olive-green jar is a miniature version of a kuan shape to which a "lotus-leaf" lid is added. The jar is molded in two sections and is ornamented with a regular pattern of vertical ribbing from shoulder to foot. Where the glaze is then on the top of these ridges it appears much whiter, in contrast to the deeper color of the glaze pooling in the grooves. The edge of the mouth and foot rim of the jar are left unglazed as is the projecting underside of the lid. The other parts of the jarlet, including the interior and base and center of the underside of the lid, are all glazed.

A considerable number of these Longquan jarlets have been excavated in recent years outside of China. In the Philippines alone, seventeen jars and four covers have come to light, and others were salvaged from the wreck of an early Yuan ship off the coast of Sinan, Korea. The shape appears in other wares as well, apparently dying out after the 14th century.

3. (Jan Stuart, 24 October 2002) Changed Medium from "glazed porcelain" to "stoneware with celadon glaze" to be consistent with label from Shades of Green and Blue and with other IDs for Longquan wares.

4. (Weina Tray for Jan Stuart, 4 March 2003) Changed Title for Public Access from "Covered jar" to "Longquan-ware covered jar."

5. (George Williams, research assistant, 30 January 2007) In anticipation of the upcoming exhibition, Taking Shape, and to reflect current understanding, changed Date from early 14th century to 14th century.

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