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Vase in the Form of an Archaic Bronze ‘Fanghu’ Jar (1368-1644)

For Artwork in Focus we explore individual artworks, critiquing their style and discussing their socio-political context. Today we look at Vase in the Form of an Archaic Bronze ‘Fanghu’ Jar (1368-1644)

About the Work

Title : Vase in the Form of an Archaic Bronze ‘Fanghu’ Jar
Year : 1368-1644
Medium : ‘Guan’-type ware: porcelain with thick grayish blue glaze over molded decoration; with inscription of the Qianlong Emperor dated to 1783 incised into the base
Location : Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Trends in Chinese Ceramics

According to the digital catalogue of the Harvard Art Museums :

“Chinese ceramic wares made in Song dynasty (960–1279) court taste are esteemed for their refined forms, subtle decoration, and soft, muted glaze colors. Buoyed by national peace, economic prosperity, and the rise of a highly educated civil official class, local ceramics industries throughout China began to thrive and innovate at unprecedented levels.”

The trend of blue and white porcelain, when it was first introduced, did not sit well with the upper class Chinese. The highest sections of society rejected such pieces as being too common. Instead, people preferred either traditional ceramics with nature motifs, or then simple and sombre monochromatic pieces that were considered tasteful and sophisticated.

Other Details

Vase in the Form of an Archaic Bronze ‘Fanghu’ Jar is housed in the Harvard Art Museums in Room 2600. It is part of the museum’s collection ofEast Asian Art – East Asian Painting and Decorative Arts.The piece was gifted to the museum by Mrs. Warfield Longcope.


To learn more about iconic artworks and their socio-political context, visit Artwork in Focus.

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