Qingbai porcelain covered jar

China, Southern Song to Yuan dynasty, 13th ­ 14th century

Height: 3 1⁄8 inches, 8 cm

A porcelain jar with a compressed ovoid body, supported on a straight foot, bulging out towards the short neck. The sides of the jar are moulded with vertical raised ribs. The slightly domed cover is fashioned in the form of a blossomed flower, moulded in low relief with six petals radiating from the centre. The interior and exterior of the jar are covered in a transparent glaze of pale blue hue. The cover is glazed on the outside only. The interior of the cover and  the slightly recessed base are unglazed and reveal the fine­-grained white porcelain body.


Produced mostly by kilns in Jianxi and Zejiang provinces, small squat jars such as the present example, sometimes made with a cover and with either lobed lips or foliate divisions, are called heyeguan (‘lotus­leaf jar’) in Chinese and were made for export to other parts of Asia.[1]  Precise dating of jars of this type is difficult; they were made in different sizes during the late Song dynasty and into the subsequent Yuan dynasty. A very similar qingbai jar, slightly larger in size and with a cover of similar shape and design, dated to the Southern Song dynasty, 13th century, is in the Kai­Yin Lo Collection.[2] Another closely comparable jar without cover and of similar size can be dated to 1224, the Southern Song dynasty.[3]  A further comparable qingbai jar dated later to the Yuan dynasty (1271 ­- 1368) is in the collection of the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco.[4]

Collection of Prof. Michael Besser, London

  1. Li, He, Chinese Ceramics, the New Standard Guide, the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, 1996, p. 203
  2. Lo, Kai­Yin, ed., Bright as Silver White as Snow­ – Chinese White Ceramics from late Tang to Yuan Dynasty, Yungmingtang, Hong Kong, 1998, pl. 55, p. 194
  3. Peng S. ed., Dated Qingbai Wares of the Song and Yuan dynasties, Hong Kong, 1998, no. 78, p. 75
  4. Li, He, op. cit., no. 366, pp. 177 and 203