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A fine and rare sancai pottery figurine of a seated court lady seated on a waisted rockwork base. The slim lady holds the stem of a flower up to its chest with its right hand, while the flower itself, heavy, sinks down and rests on her right shoulder. Her hairstyle known as the luo ji (spiraling shell) is perfectly executed. Wearing a green glazed dress with uneven folds with an amber glazed shawl wrapped around her shoulders drapes below to her knees. Her extremely acute court style shoes appear from underneath her long green dress. Her delightful facial features coupled with the rounded modelling of the face typifies Tang sculpture work.

Figures of high ranking court ladies were few and far between in the Tang repertoire of sculpture making. That being said, women had gained rights that were not present in earlier dynasties, until they were taken away again by the forthcoming Song (960-1279) rulers. This figurine is an example of that short period whereby women could reach the higher echelons of society. Sitting upright and looking downwards she transmits a sense of entitlement. Her left-hand rest on her knee to convey an all-encompassing powerful position.

  • The result of thermoluminescence test carried out by Oxford Authentication LTD, certificate number: 466Q43 and is consistent with the dating of this piece.
  • A similar sancai-glazed court lady was offered at Sotheby's New York, ‘Important Chinese Art’. 16th March 2016, lot 272.
  • Another similar seated court lady is illustrated in “Selected Masterpieces of the Matsuoka Museum of Art”, Tokyo, 1975, pl. 23.


  • Christie's London, Fine Chinese Ceramics sale 12 Dec. 1988.

Earthenware, sancai glaze.

Tang dynasty (AD 618-907).

Possibly from the Gongxian kilns, Henan, China,

H: 34cm.

Ref: WEB110 (y105)

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A fine painted pottery figure of a matron (y107)

Ref: WEB111

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Covered in a thick lead based amber glaze the ox stands square on a rectangular platform with its nostrils flared and eyes bulging, the tail flicked over its haunches. Like many of the earthenware produced in this period, this beautifully modelled ox, replicated from daily life but in a miniature size, would have been a burial object. (2945)


  • Eskenazi exhibition catalogue, “Chinese ceramics form the Cottle collection”, 28.11- 15.12. 1973 catalogue entry No. 22. pg. 42-3.
  • Another ox figure is illustrated by Mayuyama Ryusendo & Co in ‘5th Special exhibition of Tokyo Fine Art Club, Catalogue of Chinese Antique Porcelain.’ October 1972. pg.27 cat.13.

Earthenware, amber glaze.

Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907).

Possibly from the Gongxian kilns, Henan, China.

H: 15cm, W: 22cm

Ref: WEB112

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Sancai pottery were the most technically challenging wares manufactured in the Tang dynasty. This jarlet, covered in a vibrant amber and green glaze over a white slip is a product of the master craftsmanship of the Gongxian potters. The soft clay bodies would have been fired at temperatures of 800 degrees centigrade, too low for the amber and green glazes to melt. Thus, lead oxide was added to the glazes as a flux, which reduced the melting point of the glazes allowing them to run naturally in the firing process.

  • A similar example is illustrated in ‘The Illustrated Catalogue of the Tokyo National Museum, 1965, no. 110, p. 226; another is illustrated by Eskenazi in ‘Chinese ceramics from the Cottle collection’, 1973, no. 7, pp. 20/1.


  • The Toguri Museum of Art, ‘Chinese Catalogue Number. 117.’ Tokyo.
  • Exhibited at Osaka City Museum in ‘Chinese Art Exhibition 1-25. Series Number 3.

Earthenware, sancai glaze.

Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907).

Gongxian kilns, Henan, China.

W 81cm H 71cm

Ref: WEB259 (3462)

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The two-horned mythical beast, with a feline like head, hoofed feet, and two short wings spanning out from the back of its head is shown here splashed all over in the typical sancai colours of amber (iron oxide), green (copper oxide) and a white slip brown. Squatting on its haunches the beast releases a warning roar to all who are caught in the gaze of its bulging eyes.

These magnificent hybrid animals were placed in the entrances of tombs in pairs not only to repel any hostile beings who dared to trespass, but to keep the occupant of the tomb from disturbing the living. Known as ‘zhenmushou’, (grave-quelling beasts) these guardians vstarted to be manufactured in greater numbers for northern China tombs during the 5th century AD and continued to play an important part through the Tang dynasty.

  • A similar piece was exhibited in The University of Michigan Museums of Art and Archaeology Bulletin, Vol XVI, 2005-2006.

Earthenware, sancai glaze.

Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907).

Possibly from the Gongxian Kilns, Henan, China.

W 37cm H 13cm

Ref: WEB762 (3890)

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Sancai glazed four looped ears storage jar. Provenance, The Toguri Museum (Tokyo) (3462)

W 210mm H 253mm

Ref: WEB770

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The jar with rounded sides rises to a tall cylindrical neck, with fixed ring ‘taotie’ mask handles on either side as well as moulded decorations on the shoulder of animal figures including, tigers, lions, monkeys, boars and rhinoceri amongst foliage. Covered overall in a thick lead based green glaze.

Much like the other earthenware goods produced at this time, this jar, which contained grain or alcohol was made for burial purposes.

  • A similar piece is in the Metropolitan Museum collection, accession number: 67.43.17
  • Another similar piece is illustrated by W.B.R Neave-Hill in ‘Chinese Ceramics’, 1975, cat 15, pg 25, John Batholomew & Son LTD Edinburgh & London.

Han Dynasty 206 BC-220 AD


D 29cm H 35cm

Ref: WEB811

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The stoneware jar of ovoid form rising from a short foot with rounded sides is covered overall in a brown glaze, with a few areas untouched exposing the orangey-brown body. Over the brown base-layer, the sides are suffused with large uneven splashes of varying colours ranging from white, grey, pale blue to indigo. The viscous splashes drips curdlike down the body in large streaks, before it comes to a halt where the brown undercoat ends in an uneven line above the foot, revealing the granular body.

  • A similar piece Huangdao jar is illustrated by Junichiki Mayuyama Seventy Years, vol.1, Tokyo, 1976, pl. 312.

Tang Dynasty AD 618-907

W 18cm H 22.5cm


Ref: WEB842

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Tz'u-cho ware cup. Creamy white slip, black floral decoration (5242)

W 105mm H 70mm

Ref: WEB949

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A lead green glaze vase, hu of compressed baluster form with flaring neck and dish shaped mouth, the shoulder with twin moulded taotie mask and ring handles on a continuos decorative band of mythical animals and an equestrian archer amongst foaming waves.


W 360mm H 360mm

Ref: WEB958

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