Sculptural pottery vessels are very rare but have been discovered in several Neolithic cultures. The owl-shaped container from the Yangshao culture could have been functional, but the slender bottle from the Liangzhu culture appears less practical; the spout is in the form of an animal's tail and the base of the bottle is pointed, making the vessel's utility difficult to imagine.
|Excavated at the site of an
important Shang dynasty capital, this jar echoes the shape
and decoration of contemporary bronze vessels. Fashioned in
the shape of a bronze you, it bears the same incised
designs that would have decorated the bronze prototype:
zoomorphic masks, abstract dragons, and squared spirals.
Although white-bodied, this jar is not a prototype of
porcelain. It was fired at low temperature, making it soft,
porous, and brittle, and it has no glaze. Not surprisingly,
such labor-intensive but impractical vessels were not made
in quantity or over a long period.