Stoneware with suffused glaze; H. 11 1/2 in. (29.2 cm)
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. John R. Menke, 1972 (1972.274)
The dramatic beauty of this Tang-dynasty flask results from the splashes of contrasting color created by two layers of glaze, the lighter colored one dripping curdlike over the dark undercoat. The variations in color produced by this dual glaze when the piece was fired range from shades of cream through gray, blue, and lavender to the dark brown of the underglaze. At the bottom is a rim of unglazed pottery to complete the spectrum. Stoneware of this type was produced at several kilns in northern China, including one at Huangdao in Henan Province, from which this piece probably originates.
The unusual shape of the flask was most likely based on a leather prototype. In the manner of the original, the design of the pottery flask accommodates a cord that passes through the sides in a channel formed by two raised flanges and through the loops near the neck. The back of the flask is flat, in imitation of the leather that would have molded to the body when carried, and the lip of the flask is dimpled to resemble the contours of a softer material.