Offering Jar with Zodiac figures
Song Dynasty (960 – 1279)
H. 25 cm or 9 7/8 in / d. 18 cm or 7 1/8 in
This fascinating terracotta lidded vase comes from the Yunnan, region of Southwest China. It has an interesting decoration combining various ornamental elements. Crosshatching decorates the collar of the vase while two rows of lotus petals adorn the rest of the piece. The intriguing decoration on the body consists of six pairs of molded lotus petals into which animal and anthropomorphic figures have been applied in low relief. These decorative motifs, frequently found in Yunnan artworks, refer to Buddhist symbolism.The animals represent the twelve animals of the zodiac that have presented themselves to Buddha before his final extinction, while the human figures probably depict boddhisattvas. In addition, its lid recalls the shape of a stupa. Coming from a Buddhist monastery, this vase was probably used to contain offerings or sacred texts.
The work is in good structural condition. Its decoration is however less visible in some areas due to the effects of time. No structural anomalies or areas of restoration have been observed.