This gorgeous vessel, covered in a dark
brown glaze, feature two twisted handles
that connect the join of the bulbous
neck and shoulders to the body. The
classical shape is a type still seen
today in rice-wine vases throughout
China and Japan. Most likely, this
vessel served the same function in its
own day. The short-lived Song (also
spelled Sung) Dynasty partially
reunified the country after a period of
turmoil following the fall of the T’ang.
Historically, the Song are noted for
their revival of the ancient Confucian
beliefs, ushering a period known as Neo-
Confusianism that would dominate Chinese
(and later on Japanese) thought for the
next several centuries. Although best
known for their philosophical
contributions, this vase attests to the
rich artistic tradition that flourished
under the enlightened rulers of the Song
Dynasty. The rich brown glaze is
astounding not for its uniformity, but
for its subtle variations of hue. The
beige of the clay seeps through in
portions where the glaze settled more
thinly appearing almost violet in color.
The beauty of this vessel is timeless.
A true classic, it would appear as
equally striking resting on a table in a
modern home or being passed around
during a Song Dynasty ceremonial feast.
This vase symbolizes the joys of life:
drinking, celebrating with friends, art,
and appreciation of beauty. More than a
relic, this vase is a reminder of all we
share with the past, reminding us that
our modern culture is deeply rooted in
the traditions and cultures of those who
came before us.