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Identification and Creation

Object Number
Bird-shaped jar
Other Titles
Original Language Title: 馬家窯文化半山類型 彩陶鳥形壺
Work Type
Banshan phase, c. 2650-2300 BCE
Creation Place: East Asia, China
Neolithic period, Majiayao culture, c. 3300-2000 BCE
Persistent Link

Physical Descriptions

Earthenware with bichrome slip-painted decoration
H. 26.7 x W. (across handles) 35 x Diam. 32.6 cm (10 1/2 x 13 3/4 x 12 13/16 in.)


Recorded Ownership History
[Kaikodo, New York, March 2001] sold; to Walter C. Sedgwick Foundation, Woodside, CA (2001-2006), partial gift; to Harvard University Art Museums, 2006.

Acquisition and Rights

Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Partial gift of the Walter C. Sedgwick Foundation and partial purchase through the Ernest B. and Helen Pratt Dane Fund for Asian Art
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art

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Compressed, wide-bodied jar with open mouth, bulbous, off-center neck, flattened shoulders, sides tapering inward to a small, flat base, two strap lug handles embellished with crimped appliques, and a small triangular tab below the shoulder, opposite the mouth and neck; buff earthenware lightly burnished and decorated with geometric designs painted in black and burgundy slips before firing; decoration on the shoulders includes four round cartouches of small checkerboard patterns. Majiayao culture, Machang type. From the upper Yellow River valley region; Gansu, Qinghai, or Ningxia province.

This type of jar is said to resemble a squat waterfowl, with the jar’s neck, lug handles, and tab representing a bird’s head, wings, and tail, respectively.
Compare to:
(1) Jar of the same form with related bichrome painted design excavated in 1977 from a Banshan site in Lanzhou, Gansu province, now in the Gansu Museum. See Zhongguo taoci quanji (The Complete Works of Chinese Ceramics), vol. 1: Xinshiqi shidai (Neolithic period) (Shanghai: Shanghai renmin meishu chubanshe, 2000), no. 99, pp. 133 and 279.
(2) Jar of the same form with related bichrome painted design excavated in 1975 from a Banshan site in Hongchengsi, Yongjing county, Gansu province, now in the Linxia Hui Autonomous Prefecture Museum. See Zhang Pengchuan, Zhongguo caitao tu pu [Handbook of Illustrations of Chinese Painted Pottery] (Beijing: Wenwu chubanshe, 1990), no. 653.

Publication History

  • Kaikodo Journal, Vol. 19 (Spring 2001), auct. cat., Kaikodo (New York), no. 67, pp. 186-187 and 333-334
  • Kaikodo Journal, Vol. 19 (Spring 2001), auct. cat. (New York, 2001), cat. no. 67, pp. 214-215 and 333-334

Exhibition History

Subjects and Contexts

  • Sedgwick Collection

Verification Level

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