Large Ming Jar

Started by Lee Seng Kong, Apr 19, 2017, 17:36:55

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Lee Seng Kong

I was adviced that this large tall jar with thick mottled dark olive-green glaze dripping to the base is from Early Ming Dynasty

Height:- 84.3 cm                                      External mouth diameter:- 25 cm

Maximum diameter:- 49 cm                  Base diameter:- 25 cm

On one side is a prominent and detailed relief of a ?front ?facing 4-clawed ? dragon, and on the other three sides, the dragons are  ?facing-side-ways?.
In between the dragons are relief pattern of pearl on cloud.
On the neck are diagonally cress-cross pattern.
Collected this jar in 1980s from a long Melanau long house along the Tatau River near to the town of Bintulu in Sarawak, Malaysia.

Some may classify this as a "storage jar" but I am of the opinion that this is a jar presented as a "Gift"to "prominent"officials rather than a jar for storage.

Appreciate if anyone can shed some further opinion on this item.



May I suggest you look into the possibility that this is a Martaban jar? The jars have their name apparently from their shipping port of Martaban, in Burma. However, both Burmese and Chinese jars exported from that port are called Martaban jars. It appears that most were exported to SE Asia. I know only that some were found in Sabah or Sarawak.
We here and many Chinese often know little about these jars, because they were not available farther east. They were made inland, probably in Yunnan or elsewhere near the southern border, from where they were transported to Martaban for export or sale. They were not sent to the Chinese coast, or farther into China, it seems. That might be because the transport to Martaban was easier. Virtually all of the little information I have seen about Chinese Martaban jars came from SE Asia. Generally said oblong jars are relative seldom found in other Chinese wares.

Look at these jars:
You will find some resembling yours.

Lee Seng Kong

Hi Peterp,

Thank you for your reply. I have about 60 Martaban Jar in my collection, ranging from Song to Qing. Whilst most of them can be referred to in journals on Mataban jars and in museum, this particular piece stands out as, to this date, none of my collector friends has seen another.
The details of the dragons are very fine when compared to other motif of dragons on my other jars.
Thank you for your time and I will take your advice to check at tinyuri.


Yes, its decoration is very finely executed, compared with some others which are rather roughly executed.
You may be in a better position to know about Martaban jars than I do. I never saw any reference to the Chinese Martaban jars in any Chinese books or sources. Chinese simply do not know about them. People living in SE Asia, on the other hand, seem to be well accounted with them.

It is probably because their manufacturing location made them more convenient for export together with the Burmese jars through the port of Martaban, than into the interior of China. 
You may have to rely on SE Asian sources for information on these, I'm afraid. Hopefully, one of the visitors of this forum knows more about them...