An extremely fine Neolithic Chinese terracotta jar, dated to the Ma-Chang phase of the Majiayao culture, circa late 4th to the middle of the 3rd millennium BC. The vessel’s globular body slightly tapers inwards towards the flattened base. The upper part of the body forms a semi-globular shape, with a looped handle attached from the neck to the shoulder. A small, wedged handle protrudes from the lower body. The jar has a long, cylindrical neck that flares into a wide opening with an everted lip. The abstract, varied frog-pattern, featuring the iconic zig-zag shaped body and segmented claws, is painted in black pigment, enriching the upper part of the body. There are five continuous horizontal bands decorating the neck, echoing the painted, geometric ornaments that are displayed on the interior of the lip. Hatched linear etchings, in black pigment, appear within the painted band, used most likely as filler ornamentation.
Date: Circa 2350-2050 BC Period: Neolithic Period Condition: Fine condition, with the original pigment largely survived on the surface. Some erosion to pigment of etching. Some small chips consistent with age
The Majiayao phase was one of the most significant, pre-historic cultures that flourished during Neolithic China. Vast amounts of pottery material culture have been discovered, mostly from mortuary contexts, with distinct shapes and patterns. They are distinctively known for their iconic bulbous body shape, highly unified geometric patterns composed of spirals and swooping lines painted in contrasting dark red and black pigments. The manufacturing process of Majiayao painted pottery involved a unique technique, where long rods of clay were rolled out and then coiled round on top of one another in order to give the vessel the desired profile. Often the pots were made in two halves, with the top and bottom combined to form the large body. After the clay rods had been coiled, both the interior and the exterior walls of pottery were then smoothed and flattened, beaten by a paddle and anvil, thus creating an ideal silhouette. The Ma-chang phase was the last chronological stage of the Majiayao culture, dating from circa 2350 to 2050 BC, during which characteristic zoomorphic representations were introduced. These zoomorphic representations are either predominantly interpreted as a varied frog or suggest that they might have been designed in imitation of a ritual costume worn by a shaman.
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