Tripod ewer (gui)

Anonymous, Chinese
Tripod ewer (gui)
China, Neolithic period
Late Dawenkou culture, ca. 2800-ca. 2400 B.C.
Ceramic vessel
Earthenware with red and white pigments
h. 20.8 cm.
Museum purchase, Fowler McCormick, Class of 1921, Fund


This "white ware" tripod ewer was fashioned by hand as an assemblage of individual parts. The rounded earthenware body is encircled by a thin pie-crust band, and is supported on three hollow, bulbous legs that terminate in pointed feet. The tall, flared neck of the vessel is pinched to form a long pointed spout, and the base of the neck is encircled by a painted band of red pigment. On the opposite side to the spout, a rope-twist handle arches from the neck to the body.

Among ceramics of the Dawenkou archaeological culture, thin-walled "white ware" pottery made its appearance during the Middle Dawenkou period (ca. 3500-ca. 2800 B.C., and the peculiar gui pouring vessel type emerged a few centuries before 3000 B.C. In its earliest stages, gui vessels had solid legs and the handle joined to the base of the neck. In the Late Dawenkou period (ca. 2800- ca. 2400 B.C.), shorter hollow legs are attached to a rounder body, the handle is joined high on the neck, and a pie-crust band around the body becomes a standard feature. The gui vessel type continued to evolve in the following Shandong Longshan culture (ca. 2400-ca. 2000 B.C.) occupying the same geographic region. In this final stage, the hollow legs of gui vessels rise directly up into a tall, centered, cylindrical neck, replacing the earlier round body and off-centered neck. Thermoluminescence analysis for the museum's Tripod ewer is consitant with a dating to the Late Dawenkou or early Shandong Longshan culture.

When fired at kiln temperatures of about 900 C., the high kaolin clay content in "white wares" produces a fine-grained, light colored pottery ranging in tone from white, yellow, to pink. "White ware" pottery seems to have been mainly reserved for ritual vessels, such as tripod ewers, and were not used for daily wares. The Dawenkou culture developed along the lower Yellow River region in the area of modern Shandong province. This culture also is known for its jade carvings, and black- and gray, and red-ware ceramics.

"Recent Acquisitions"
PUAM 6/22-9/1/02