Large hu glaze vase with taotie pattern
Han dynasty (206 B.C. – 220 A.D.)
H. 45 cm or 17¾ in
Resting on a ring-shaped base, this narrow-necked vase with a bulging belly is dated to the Han Dynasty. Covered with a water-green glaze, obtained from lead silicate, the vase has a brilliant and slightly iridescent appearance. Once a much deeper green, time has given the piece its present patina.
The Taotie mask, which makes up the decoration, has been a traditional motif in China since antiquity. Here it is surmounted by a handle motif, which is inspired by bronze objects. Indeed, both the decoration and the typology of the terracotta objects are inspired by similar objects cast in bronze.
The finely moulded decoration, the rings in slight relief and the subtle incised motifs on the neck contribute to the refinement of the piece.
Hu vases are drinking vessels, which contained fermented drinks in particular. There are many types of hu vessels, which had both ritual and funerary functions. This vase was certainly part of the funerary furniture accompanying the deceased to his final resting place.