Jar with Dragon Handles
Late 600s–early 700s, Tang dynasty (618–907)
Gift of Dr. Michael Sze
Although function determines the shape of most vessels, artisans across Asia were open to adapting forms they saw in ceramics from other cultures. This white-glazed porcelain jar is a fine example of a kind of vessel mass-produced in northern China during the Tang dynasty. In particular, the exquisite white porcelains manufactured at the Xing and Ding kilns were not only highly regarded by the court and aristocracy, they were also valued export commodities to overseas markets. Increased contact and trade with the outside world also greatly impacted the style of Tang ceramics. For example, this kind of amphora-shaped jar is believed to imitate Persian and Central Asian metalwork, which has a long tradition of using animal-shaped handles. However, the dragon is a uniquely Chinese addition.
Donor was contacted in June 2016 in an attempt to gather more information, and the DAM never received a response. No identifying characteristics or clues were discovered upon physical examination; without a response from the donor there was no way to move forward in terms of primary or secondary research.
Though no additional provenance information has been discovered, the museum can formally accession these objects (NAC 2007.6 - NAC 2007.9) under the updated 2013 AAMD guidelines, which state in Section III.F.3.a: "The AAMD recognizes that even after the most extensive research, many Works will lack a complete documented ownership history. Member museums may acquire such Works if: (3.a) The acquisition of the Work is by gift or bequest and the donor/testator signed prior to 2008 a promise to gift, a will, a trust, or other document setting forth her/his intent to donate of bequeath the work to the museum."
Once the objects are formally accessioned they will be posted to the AAMD Object Registry in accordance with the above guidelines, but because they were donated to the museum in 2007 there is no complication in formally bringing them into the permanent collection at this time. -CF