East Asia, China, Han Dynasty, ca. 206 BCE to 220 CE. A rare matched pair of Eastern Han Dynasty classical ceramic Hu vessels - their elegant forms of a baluster shape with slightly flaring necks and wide mouths, the shoulders with a continuous relief frieze of hunting scenes with mythical or wild creatures chasing each other in a never-ending circle as well as a pair of taotie masks holding rings that suggest handles incorporated into the frieze. During the Han dynasty, storage jars (Hu) were created to fill with wine and foodstuffs for the afterlife as food was abundant and the standard of living was most comfortable for individuals of all classes. According to scholars, the Hu jar originated as a bronze vessel during the Shang Period (1600-1045 BCE). Size: both are approximately the same size, but the slightly larger one measures 6.25" W x 7.375" H (15.9 cm x 18.7 cm)
This pendant pair of exemplary Hu vessels was created during the Han Dynasty, a period from which early Chinese pottery has fortunately survived. The elegant forms of piriform or baluster shaped Hu vases like these were copied from bronze vessels of the same name. Sometimes they were also decorated with relief ornamental friezes inspired directly from a bronze original. The main production center of Han glazed ware was shifting to the Zhejiang region, formerly known as Yue during the Han dynasty. These vessels were probably created in Yue ware kilns of the eastern Han, where hard stoneware vases, usually imitating the shapes and decorative programs of bronze vessels under a thin olive glaze, were created. The olive or brownish green glaze falls under the glazes known as celadon, a term that speaks volumes in any discussion of early Chinese wares. Celadon refers to glazes ranging from the olive of Yue to the deep greens of later varieties. Their hues manifested, because potters applied a slip that contained a high proportion of iron over the body prior to glazing.
Provenance: private Vero Beach, Florida, USA collection, from an old English collection formed in the 1970s
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Expected surface wear with minor nicks and glaze losses commensurate with age. One vessel may have area of restoration to rim.