Celadon Jar

Six Dynasties (317-581)
Three Gorges Museum, Chongqing

As mentioned previously, the history of porcelain in China began as long ago as the Han dynasty. The present object, created during the period of disunity following the fall of Han, represents an early experiment in this direction. It is incorrectly (in my opinion) classified as "celadon porcelain" on the museum label. I would rather consider it as one provincial step on the continuum from stoneware to porcelain. For these early kaolin wares, the boundaries between proto-porcelain, and proto-celadon, are still being debated by scholars.

The thick green glaze was left off the bottom of the body, so that the pots would not stick together or to the firing surface. Its design is enlivened by a naively modeled soldier, carrying shield and spear, who is suspended amusingly near the rim. A more sophisticated, but still early, example is shown on the next page.