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Bird-headed ewer

Bird-headed ewer

Bird-headed ewer. China; Henan or Shaanxi province; Tang dynasty (618–906). Glazed earthenware. The Avery Brundage Collection, B60P214.

Connections between East Asia and West Asia in Ceramics
Through many centuries the Persian world and China were fascinated by and desired each other's exotic products. Persians sought China's great silks and ceramics, especially porcelain, while their own wine, metalwork, and glass found ready markets in China. Persian and Arab merchants (such as the one shown here holding a wineskin) were active in all of China's trading centers, both along the Silk Road and in the coastal ports.

Shapes popular in Persian metalwork and ceramics, such as the bird-headed ewer and the long-necked, high-spouted ewer, were imitated by Chinese potters. Meanwhile, Chinese shapes such as the long-necked bottle with a bulblike swelling below the mouth were copied in Persia. Also copied were such decorative techniques of Chinese potters as dripping and splashing multicolored glazes. The Persian ceramics factories tried for centuries to duplicate China's most prized ceramic-true porcelain-but never succeeded, in part because they lacked the necessary raw materials.

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