Unknown Artist

Stem cup

Not on display
Further information

A marbled pottery stem cup, the bowl with rounded sides and slightly flared rim, supported on a short stem of unmarbled clay with a circular foot. The body of the bowl is made up of clays of two colours intermingled to imitate marble, and the whole object is covered with a transparent pale amber glaze. Tang marbled ware is extremely rare and this piece is a very good example of the type. The stem cup shape is in fact a less common shape among pieces of marbled ware.

Asian Art Dept., AGNSW, 8 August 1979.

Marbled wares first appear in the Tang dynasty and are a small category of ceramics whose existence indicates the Tang potters' experimental search for novelty. The effect was achieved by combining two clays of different colours in imitation of marble. The clay would have had to be pressed out in moulds rather than turned on the wheel to avoid any muddying of the marbled pattern. The pieces were then coated with a lead glaze, either straw coloured or sometimes green.

The idea of marbled ware probably came from the Mediterranean area as marbling was known in ancient Roman pottery and was very common in classical glass.

Jackie Menzies, 'Early Chinese Art', AGNSW, 1983. cat. no. XXXVII

Place of origin
China: Tang dynasty 618–907
8th century CE-9th century CE
marbled earthenware
8.5 x 8.9 cm (irreg.)
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Purchased 1979
Accession number