A large pottery owl-form ewer and cover, Qijia culture, 2050-2000 B.C. 齊家文化 陶鴟鴞形蓋盉
Property from the Ronald W. Longsdorf Collection
A large pottery owl-form ewer and cover,
Qijia culture, 2050-2000 B.C.
Ronald W. Longsdorf 收藏
h. 24.7 cm
Good overall condition. Some old flakes to the body, the edges of the handle and the cover, and some minor age cracks, as expected and typical of its type.
The lot is sold in the condition it is in at the time of sale. The condition report is provided to assist you with assessing the condition of the lot and is for guidance only. Any reference to condition in the condition report for the lot does not amount to a full description of condition. The images of the lot form part of the condition report for the lot. Certain images of the lot provided online may not accurately reflect the actual condition of the lot. In particular, the online images may represent colors and shades which are different to the lot's actual color and shades. The condition report for the lot may make reference to particular imperfections of the lot but you should note that the lot may have other faults not expressly referred to in the condition report for the lot or shown in the online images of the lot. The condition report may not refer to all faults, restoration, alteration or adaptation. The condition report is a statement of opinion only. For that reason, the condition report is not an alternative to taking your own professional advice regarding the condition of the lot. NOTWITHSTANDING THIS ONLINE CONDITION REPORT OR ANY DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING A LOT, ALL LOTS ARE OFFERED AND SOLD "AS IS" IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE CONDITIONS OF SALE/BUSINESS APPLICABLE TO THE RESPECTIVE SALE.
Ronald W. Longsdorf, The Pottery Age: An Appreciation of Neolithic Ceramics from China, Circa 7000 BC - Circa 1000 BC, Hong Kong, 2020, pl. 72.
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72
The slightly domed top of the ewer is decorated with two circular depressions and an open spout, which, when viewed from above, appear to represent the eyes and beak of a bird or owl. The crenellated flange on the cover also resembles a bird' comb. Other Qijia culture ewers and covers rendered with faces are known and varying examples depicting a human face are also known, such as one preserved in the collection of Harvard Art Museums/ Arthur M. Sackler Museum, acquisition no. 2006.170.60. For another example from Gansu or Qinghai Province, see Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang collection, Vol. III, London, 2006, no. 1074.
Various theories have been proposed regarding what these whimsical faces represented and while some believe them to be ritualistic elements, it has also been suggested by Max Loehr that the potter could have been "induced to add a nose and two eyes on the dome, thus transforming it into a vaguely human face" (Ritual Vessels of Bronze Age China, New York, 1968, p. 30), in a very humanly manner that is perhaps more relatable to the modern viewer. Such theories, in fact, do not rule each other out, as it could also be possible that the 'spontaneous' faces eventually took on a ritualistic role.