Yue stoneware water pot of frog form

Yue stoneware water pot of frog form

China, Western Jin dynasty, 265 – 316

Diameter: 2 3/4 inches, 7 cm

Height: 1 3/8 inches, 3.5 cm

Yue stoneware water pot of frog form

A stoneware water pot in the form of a frog, the globular vessel standing on a slightly concave base. The body is applied with a frog’s head, four frog’s legs and a stubby tail. Both the interior and the exterior of the pot are covered in a translucent greyish green glaze, leaving only the concave base unglazed and revealing the orange stoneware body.


Water pots embellished on the body with different types of animal-head or animal-feet decorations are common in Six Dynasties green wares, and frog-shaped water pots belong to this category. Frogs (qingwa) are associated with rain and moisture in most of Asia and are found decorating some of the bronze drums used in rites to summon rain by ethnic groups in southern China. [1] The function of this type of vessel is likely to be an accessory for a scholar’s desk. [2] Judging from tomb excavation data, greenware frog-shaped water pots are chronologically dated to the period from Wu (222 – 280) [3] to Western Jin. Due to the large mouth and a pad-shaped solid foot on the base, the current example is of later style and can be more precisely dated to the Western Jin dynasty. Closely comparable examples of similar size, form and glaze, dated to the Western Jin dynasty, are respectively in the collections of the Palace Museum, Beijing, [4] the Shanghai Museum, [5] the Zhejiang Provincial Museum, [6] the British Museum, [7] and the Sir Herbert Ingram collection at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (fig. 1). [8]

Provenance: M. Meyer collection, no. 494 (with paper label)

Christie’s London in 1980

SEACS-NMS no. 134

Private collection, Singapore

  1. Welch, P. B. Chinese Art – A Guide to Motifs and Visual Imagery, Tuttle Publishing, Singapore, 2012, p. 102
  2. Lin, Shwu-shin etc. ed. Special Exhibition of Early Chinese Greenware – Principally Yue Ware, National Museum of History, Taipei, p. 270
  3. Examples dated to the Wu kingdom of the Three Kingdoms period, see British Museum online collection archive registration number 1968,0422.20
  4. Li, Hue Bin ed. Porcelain of the Jin and Tang Dynasties – The Complete Collection of Treasures of the Palace Museum, The Commercial Press, Hong Kong, 1996, no. 26, p. 30
  5. Li, Jun, Qian Feng Cui Se – Zhongguo Yue yao qing, Ningbo chu ban she, Ningbo, 2011, p. 77
  6. The Zhejiang Museum online collection archive, https://www.zhejiangmuseum.com/zjbwg/collection/collect_detail.html?id=2012
  7. The British Museum online collection archive, nos. 1973,0124.1 & PDF 289, 290
  8. Tregear, M. Catalogue of Chinese Greenware, The Clarendon Press, Oxford, 1976, nos. 63 & 64, p. 33
Fig. 1 Yue stoneware water pot with loop handles, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford
Fig. 1 Yue stoneware water pot with loop handles, Ashmolean Museum, Oxford