Pottery marbled dish

China, Tang dynasty, 618 – 906

Diameter: 5 1/4 inches, 13.3 cm
Height: 1 inch, 2.6 cm

A pottery circular dish with a flat base, slightly convex interior and a flared rim. The dish is made of ‘marbled’ clay, producing a design of mixed dark and light irregular swirling stripes. It is covered overall in a pale amber-coloured glaze. The base shows three tiny spur marks.


A ‘marbled’ effect on a pottery vessel was produced by kneading together clays of white and brown colours. This technique is known in China as jiao tai (mixed body) or jiao ni (mixed clay). In the case of this exquisite small dish, the mixed clay was used to form the entire body of the vessel before it was coated in a layer of pale amber-coloured glaze. Different names, such as ‘wood grain pattern’, ‘pheasant’s wing pattern’ or ‘feather pattern’ are given to the resulting effect, depending on how the clays are mixed.  The technique was developed in the Tang dynasty, when marbled wares were produced particularly in the kilns of Gongxian, Henan province, but petered out by the end of the Song dynasty (960 – 1279).[1]  Two closely comparable marbled dishes of similar form and size, covered in a pale amber-coloured glaze are in the Meiyintang collection.[2] A larger marbled basin, covered in an amber glaze and excavated in Jiangsu province in 1973, is now preserved in the collection of the Zhengjiang Museum in Jiangsu.[3]

  1. Wang Qingzheng, A Dictionary of Chinese Ceramics, Sun Tree Publishing Ltd, Singapore, 2002, pp. 212-3
  2. Krahl, R. Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, vol. Three (I), Paradou Writing, London, 2006, no. 1240, p. 230
  3. An, Jingkui, Zhongquo Taoci Quanji: The Complete Works of Chinese Ceramics, Vol.5: Sui Tang, Shanghai ren ming chu ban she, Shanghai, 2000, no. 214, p. 198