A large painted 'spirals' pottery jar, Majiayao culture, Machang phase, c. 2200-2000 B.C. 馬家窰文化 馬廠類型 渦紋彩陶壺
Property from the Ronald W. Longsdorf Collection
A large painted 'spirals' pottery jar,
Majiayao culture, Machang phase, c. 2200-2000 B.C.
Ronald W. Longsdorf 收藏
馬家窰文化 馬廠類型 渦紋彩陶壺
h. 33.5 cm
Overall very good condition with occasional old flakes to the edges and typical age cracks, including one to the slightly warped section of the rim. The painting has been generally well preserved.
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The Mengdiexuan Collection
Ronald W. Longsdorf, The Pottery Age: An Appreciation of Neolithic Ceramics from China, Circa 7000 BC - Circa 1000 BC, Hong Kong, 2020, pl. 26.
Ronald W. Longsdorf, 《陶誌：中國新石器時代陶器 約西元前7000年 – 前1000年》，香港，2020年，圖版26
While pottery jars painted with spiral motifs from the Neolithic cultures in China and beyond are not uncommon, it is very rare to find one that is skilfully potted with a sharp edge at the midpoint as seen on the current jar, as though delineating the upper painted and lower plain sections.
See a comparable vessel from the Machang phase, illustrated in The Complete Works of Chinese Ceramics. Vol. I Neolithic Age, Shanghai, 2000, no. 120, and one outside of China from the Cucuteni culture in Danube Valley, included in David W. Anthony and Jennifer Y. Chi, eds., The Lost World of Old Europe, The Danube Valley, 5000-3500 BC, New York, 2010, nos 6-26. It is unknown what natural phenomenon the spiral motif would have represented exactly, but its wide employment across cultures signifies its importance.
The spiral motifs rendered on the present example are especially noteworthy; powerfully decorated with a strong dark outline, the thick spirals contrast sharply with the unpainted tan ground. The uneven negative spaces between the spirals are thoughtfully disguised by the insertion of smaller roundels between them, resulting in a hypnotising design timeless to even the modern eye.
It is widely believed that such jars were intended to be viewed from the top, which probably explains why they are usually undecorated from the midpoint of the vessel as they would remain invisible to the eye.
馬廠類型近例可見《中國陶瓷全集・卷1・新石器時代》，上海，2000年，編號120。另一近例來自中國以外的奧地利多瑙河山谷庫庫泰尼（Cucuteni）文化，可參考 David W. Anthony 與 Jennifer Y. Chi 編纂《The Lost World of Old Europe, The Danube Valley, 5000-3500 BC》，紐約，2010年，編號6-26。如今已無從考究渦紋所象徵為大自然何物，但綜觀世界各地的古文明，其廣泛使用已可見此紋飾對人類的非凡意義。