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Collection

An image of Martaban urn with dragon design by
Alternate image of Martaban urn with dragon design by

China

Title
Martaban urn with dragon design
Other titles:
Martaban jar with dragon design
Place of origin
China
Period
Qing dynasty 1644 - 1911 → China
Media category
Ceramic
Materials used
stoneware with stamped relief decoration, brown glaze
Dimensions

55.0 cm

Credit
Gift of Peter Elliott 2006
Accession number
194.2006
Location
Not on display
Further information

This large urn has six dragon loop hoops on the shoulder (one is missing) interspersed with stamped decorations of floral pedals beneath a band of alternating flowers and birds. The body bears stamped motifs of two pairs of ascending dragons each facing a flaming pearl on top of a scrolling cloud. In between are two pairs of cranes turning their heads towards the dragons.

Martaban urns are named after the port of Martaban on the west coast of modern-day Burma, which was an important link in the China-India ceramic trade. Goods were transported overland from China to Martaban, and from there were shipped to West Asia, India and Africa in the Song and Ming dynasties. Martaban ceramics created in unofficial kilns in China were typically large, sturdy storage jars, as shown here, and were common throughout the Indonesian archipelago. The jars played an integral part in tribal culture and were regarded as repositories of supernatural powers. They could be filled with local rice wine or even holy water from the Ganges, and were also used as funerary jars.

Asian Art Department, AGNSW, January 2012

Exhibition history (1)

Dragon (2012), Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 18 Jan 2012–06 May 2012