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Chinese Han Dynasty Blackware Amphora - Decorated

East Asia, China, Han Dynasty, ca. 206 BCE to 220 CE. A black earthenware vessel of a form famous from Han tombs in Sichuan. It has a slightly-inset round base, a rounded, four-sided body, a tapered neck with raised vertical ridges, a flared rim, and a pair of applied strap handles that flow seamlessly from the rim to the lower body. Each of the body's four sides bears a series of raised swirls, and the neck boasts an encircling strip of densely-incised vertical striations. Size: 7" W x 7.35" H (17.8 cm x 18.7 cm)

This type of double-handled amphora was made in western Sichuan province, in central China, and is known as "Lifan" after the area where vessels like it are found. The style is fascinating, very different from others created during the Han period, and seems to be an artistic callback to the elegant forms of the Chinese Neolithic era. These vessels are found mainly within rock-cut tombs and cist burials, with a few examples known from the more classically Han chambered brick tombs. This suggests that these vessels were made by immigrants or members of non-dominant ethnic groups within Han China, probably people who lived a nomadic lifestyle centered on husbandry while their Chinese contemporaries led more sedentary, agricultural-based lifestyles.

Condition: Intact. Tiny chips from surface including a small one from the rim commensurate with age. Light deposits on surface. Small area low on one side that is marked from firing.

Provenance: ex-Lotus Trading Company, Hong Kong, brought to the US around 1975

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