Chinese/Asian? Large Half Glazed Martaban Jar

Started by tipton444, Jul 23, 2020, 03:31:53

Previous topic - Next topic

0 Members and 1 Guest are viewing this topic.


Hello guys, been a while.  I recently purchased this interesting jar and I'd love to learn more about it.  The half glazed style, three rings at the top, and red oxblood type color had me assuming it was Asian.  What do you guys think, is it indeed Asian or Chinese?  The designs in between the ring handles are the only thing that is confusing me, it doesn't seem like an Asian decoration, but then again I can't find ANY other half glazed jars like this from other areas of the world.  I just learned about the name, a "Martaban" jar for storage and wine, and many were made in Southeast Asia I believe, but it seems many are labeled as Chinese as well.  I've seen some similarities in Tang and Song dynasty ceramics, is that where the shape and style comes from?  And old do you think it is?  Thank you all for your input!


More pictures

Seems pretty old to me... old looking clay with imperfections, the glaze pulls back beautifully on the handles and rim, inside is dirty and looks very aged.


You are right with your doubts, this is probably not Chinese. First of all the red glaze would probably not have existed before the 14th or 15th century. Three carrying lugs are odd too. Usually there are two or four. And the decoration in between does not look Chinese as you said. Another thing is that the early pottery (Tang) would have mostly have had applied slip so that the glaze would adhere better. There is none here. But, Martaban ware has its name from the shipping port in Burma. Apart from the Chinese ones Burmese Martaban jars were also shipped from there. Would they have red ones? A red glaze seems to be absent in all early wares in South East and East Asia.


aha!  That explains why all the early Tang wares have a different colored body.  I also noticed that I wasn't seeing many jars with 3 ring handles like you said, so I'm glad you noticed that as well.  It's been a good learning experience with regards to Martaban jars (or jars that look similar).  I think it will be sitting on a shelf for a while until I randomly come across another one like it or more information.  Thank you very much for the help as always Peter.


> I think it will be sitting on a shelf for a while until I randomly come across another one

Yeah, that is what I do all the time, and sometimes origin and dating resolve themselves... :)

BTW, I do not know that much about Martaban jars, only what I could find online. No Chinese books I read ever mentioned them. Although the Chinese Martaban jars were really made in Southern China the people in China and here in Taiwan are mostly unaware of their existence, probably because most of the more characteristic Chinese Martaban jars were transported directly to the port of Martaban, not via or into China itself. That was probably because the location of the kilns made it easier to ship them down the Irrawaddy than over the mountains to a river in Yunnan, where they could have been transported down the Yangtse. Generally, people in SE Asia, where the jars went to from Burma, seem to be more familiar with this kind of storage jar.

(I put a link to a PDF file with information regarding Martaban jars into the Additional Info board.)


Very interesting!  Makes a lot more sense now on why I'm not seeing a whole lot of Chinese martaban jars.  After looking at a whole bunch of different jars, I'm leaning towards it being European but still not sure what region.  It seems Southern France made confit jars that were buried halfway in the ground to keep them cold, hence the half glazed design, but I couldn't find any 3 ring handles or red glazed...then there's old Spanish olive jars which have the 3 ring handles but not the half glazed design.  I'm glad I'm not the only one who just puts it on a shelf until it resolves itself!  Thanks for adding the PDF!