Pottery Tripod Ewer, Gui

China, Neolithic period, Dawenkou culture
early 3rd millennium BC

Height: 10 1⁄4 inches, 26.1 cm
Width: 5 1⁄2 inches, 14 cm

A thinly potted earthenware tripod ewer, gui, the flared mouth rim with pinched spout, a strap handle connecting it to the body, which divides into three lobes below a ‘pie-crust’ rim and terminates into three hollow, sharply pointed feet. The front is applied with a flat, disc-shaped piece of clay. The surface of the vessel, which is of whitish clay, is smoothly finished.


This finely potted earthenware tripod ewer is a perfect example of hand-made pottery of the Dawenkou culture in the Shandong region.[1] This distinctive shape was also popular in the second half of the third millennium BC during the Longshan culture, where the original proportions were modified.[2] Such ‘white ware’ vessels were intended for ritual purposes rather than for daily life.[3] A closely comparable Dawenkou-culture tripod ewer, similar in size, the whitish clay body, and the rimmed decoration around the body, was excavated from Taian county, Shandong province in 1959, and is now in the collection of the Shandong Provincial Museum.[4] Another similar tripod ewer with whitish clay body, dated to the later Dawenkou culture, is in the collection of the Princeton University Art Museum.[5] A Dawenkou-culture tripod ewer akin to this vessel is in the Muwentang Collection.[6] A further comparable tripod ewer, dated to the Longshan culture, with slightly longer spout and udder-shaped legs, is in the Meiyintang collection.[7]

Julius Eberhardt Collection, Vienna, Austria

Private collection, Germany

  1. Liu, Lang-Yi, A Survey of Chinese Ceramics, Early Wares: Prehistoric to Tenth Century, Vol. I, Aries Gemini Publishing Ltd., Taipei, 1991, p. 21
  2. Watson, William, Pre-Tang Ceramics of China- Chinese Pottery from 4000 BC to 600 AD, Faber and Faber, London, 1991, p. 51
  3. Princeton University Art Museum online collection archive webpage:
  4. The Complete Works of Chinese Ceramics- Vol. 1, Neolithic Age, Shanghai renmin
    meishu chubanshe, Shanghai, 1999, no. 157, pp. 177, 299
  5. Op cit, Princeton University Art Museum online collection archive webpage.
  6. Kwan, Simon, Chinese Neolithic Pottery- The Muwen Tang Collection Series-3,
    Hong Kong, no. 52, pp. 142-3
  7. Krahl, R., Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyingtang Collection, Vol. One, Azimuth
    Editions, London, 1994, no. 37, p. 34