Height: 14 inches, 35.6 cm

Bronze ‘garlic head’ bottle vase, Hu

China, Western Han dynasty, 206 BC – 8 AD

A bronze vase, the compressed globular body supported on a tall, gently tapered foot, and surmounted by a flared neck, which terminates in a bulbous, so-called ‘garlic-head’ mouth. The exterior of the vase has acquired a beautiful patina in a combination of malachite green and varying brown and copper-like hues.

This elegant bronze vase with its simple shape of a ‘garlic-head’, or suantouping, forms the prototype of certain pottery forms.  Low fired earthenware would not have been practical for everyday use as it is not watertight, and instead bronze vases such as this held liquid perfectly.  Examples of bronze ‘garlic head’ vases, dated either to the Qin (221 – 207 BCE) or the Han dynasty, are in the collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei.1

  1. The National Palace Museum, Taipei online collection archive, nos. .. 2216, ..841, 1232