Pheonix-Headed Ewer

Period: Tang dynasty (618–907)

Date: late 7th–first half of the 8th century

Culture: China

Medium: Earthenware with three-color (sancai) glaze

Dimensions: H. 12 3/4 in. (32.5 cm)

Classification: Ceramics

Credit Line: Gift of Stanley Herzman, in memory of Adele Herzman, 1991

Accession Number: 1991.253.4


The shape of either Western Asian or Central Asian metalwork could have provided the model for this Tang-dynasty earthenware ewer. However, the attachment of its elongated handle to the mouth rim rather than the body indicates a Central Asian—specifically, Sogdian—prototype. The mounted archer shooting over his shoulder, the so-called "Parthian shot," can be found in the Western ornamental lexicon.