Period: Northern Qi dynasty (550–577)

Date: late 6th century

Culture: China

Medium: Earthenware with relief decoration under an olive green glaze

Dimensions: H. 13 7/8 in. (35.2 cm); Diam. 8 3/4 in. (22.2 cm); Diam. of rim 5 3/8 in. (13.7 cm); Diam. of foot 6 in. (15.2 cm)

Classification: Ceramics

Credit Line: Purchase, Stanley Herzman Gift, 1996

Accession Number: 1996.15


Four pearl roundels, each containing the same image of a frontal man's head with a Central Asian face, dominate this jar. Frontal heads surrounded by pearl beading occur in several kinds of early Central Asian art; for example, they appear frequently on unglazed Khotanese earthenwares.

Elements of the Buddhist decorative grammar appear here as well: the elongated earlobes are characteristic of images of the Buddha, and the highly stylized palmettes are reminiscent of carvings in some Buddhist cave temples. The tasseled streamers issuing from an ornamental disk are similar to those embellishing late Six Dynasties (220–589) stone figures of bodhisattvas; they also occur in Khotanese earthenwares.