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Asian art

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Stem cup

8th century CE-9th century CE


Unknown Artist


A marbled pottery stem cup, the bowl with rounded sides and slightly flared rim, supported on a short stem of unmarbled clay with a circular foot. The body of the bowl is made up of clays of two colours intermingled to imitate marble, and the whole object is covered with a transparent pale amber glaze. Tang marbled ware is extremely rare and this piece is a very good example of the type. The stem cup shape is in fact a less common shape among pieces of marbled ware.

Asian Art Dept., AGNSW, 8 August 1979.

Marbled wares first appear in the Tang dynasty and are a small category of ceramics whose existence indicates the Tang potters' experimental search for novelty. The effect was achieved by combining two clays of different colours in imitation of marble. The clay would have had to be pressed out in moulds rather than turned on the wheel to avoid any muddying of the marbled pattern. The pieces were then coated with a lead glaze, either straw coloured or sometimes green.

The idea of marbled ware probably came from the Mediterranean area as marbling was known in ancient Roman pottery and was very common in classical glass.

Jackie Menzies, 'Early Chinese Art', AGNSW, 1983. cat. no. XXXVII


Place where the work was made



Tang dynasty 618 - 907 → China


8th century CE-9th century CE

Media category


Materials used

marbled earthenware


8.5 x 8.9 cm (irreg.)

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Purchased 1979


Not on display

Accession number



Where the work was made

Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

  • Early Chinese art, Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney, 26 Feb 1983–08 May 1983

Referenced in 1 publication


Jackie Menzies, Early Chinese Art, Sydney, 1983, not paginated. XXXVII. See 'Further Information' for text.