A pair of painted pottery feline-headed jars with detachable necks

西漢      彩繪套猫科首壺及蓋兩件

The body of each jar is of compressed spherical form resting on a low slightly splayed foot-rim. The cylindrical base of the neck is detachable from a short distance above the shoulders. The upper part of the neck is bent over and fashioned into the head of a mythical feline resembling a horned leopard, with large white eyes with black pupils, short pointed ears, and curved white horns set against the red forehead. A circular aperture is let into the highest point of the neck. The body is deftly painted in red and white pigments with swirling clouds, above a double red line border.

It is rare to find detachable necked jars with feline heads rather than the more usual goose heads. The flexible neck of the goose lends itself to this type of jar, and perhaps it is reasonable to deduce that the mythical feline represented here has a similarly sinuous neck.

The broad register of swirling cloud is characteristic of the Western Han rendition of the celestial realm. The mythical feline, as at home in this misty world as the heavenly version of  the tiger, probably serves a similar function, as an averter of evil.

Dimensions: Height: 41 cm, 16 ⅛ inches

Date: Western Han dynasty (206 BC - AD 9)

Stock No. 843

Price: On Request