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Vase in the Shape of an Archaic Jade ‘Cong’ Ritual Implement (1736-1795)

For Artwork in Focus we explore individual artworks, critiquing their style and discussing their socio-political context. Today we look at Vase in the Shape of an Archaic Jade ‘Cong’ Ritual Implement (1736-1795)

About the Work

Title : Vase in the Shape of an Archaic Jade ‘Cong’ Ritual Implement
Year : 1736-1795
Medium : Jingdezhen ‘Guan’-type ware: porcelain with crackled, grayish blue, ‘guan’-type glaze; with underglaze cobalt blue mark reading ‘Da Qing Qianlongnian zhi’ in seal-script characters on the base
Dimensions :H. 27.0 x W. 13.1 x D. 13.1 cm (10 5/8 x 5 3/16 x 5 3/16 in.)
Location : Harvard Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts.

Chinese Ceramics

During the Song dynasty (960–1279), the ceramics trade in China evolved and flourished. The period also marked a time when the tastes and preferences of the people were changing and resultantly, so was the cultural output being produced.

According to the digital catalogue of the Harvard Art Museums :

“Kilns seeking to supply household wares to their highly cultured clientele often created pieces that were reminiscent of other precious items. For example, northern Ding wares, with their decorative designs and thin bodies, were often compared to silverwork, while the thick green glazes coating southern Longquan wares brought carved jades to mind.”

Traditional motifs used in Chinese ceramics included patterns borrowed from nature, such as tress, flowers and birds. The Chinese court played a significant role in setting the trends for the craft. Towards the end of the Song Dynasty, the preferences changed from nature-based motifs to motifs found in antiquity. Tastes further evolved with the introduction of the blue-and-white porcelains.

Other Details

Vase in the Shape of an Archaic Jade ‘Cong’ Ritual Implement  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 in 1991.


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

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