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Stoneware bowl sherd - The Stein Collection

The Stein Collection

  • Object:

    Stoneware bowl sherd

  • Place of origin:

    The Limes Watchtowers (discovered)

  • Date:

    618-906 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Dark brown glazed stoneware

  • Credit Line:

    Stein Loan Collection. On loan from the Government of India and the Archaeological Survey of India. Copyright: Government of India

  • Museum number:

    LOAN:INDIA.30

  • Gallery location:

    Ceramics, Room 137, The Curtain Foundation Gallery, case 2, shelf 5

This base fragment with foot ring once made up a shallow stoneware bowl dating to the Tang dynasty (618-906). The outside is unglazed, but the inside is coated with a dark brown glaze. A concentric ring on the inside is left unglazed as it may have supported the foot ring of another pot stacked to it during firing. This sherd along with many other pottery sherds was found at a watchtower near the town of Dunhuang. Sir Marc Aurel Stein (1862-1943) coined the term “limes” for the line of watchtowers north of Dunhuang, Gansu Province, which constitute the westernmost extension of the Great Wall. The military facilities were manned during the course of the Han Dynasty (206 BC – 220 AD) and excavated during Stein’s second expedition. He recovered objects illustrating the everyday life, tools and other artefacts in these peripheral garrisons of the Chinese empire, among them inscribed wooden slips which count to the oldest written record then known from China.

The Victoria and Albert Museum has more than 70 ceramic fragments and fragments of Buddhist sculptures, as well as around 600 ancient and medieval textiles recovered by Stein during his second expedition (1906-8) into Chinese Central Asia, where he once again visited and excavated sites on the southern Silk Road, before moving eastwards to Dunhuang. At Dunhuang, he studied and excavated the Han-dynasty watchtowers to the north of the town, as well as the Mogao cave temples to the southeast, where he acquired material from the Library Cave. From there he moved on to the northern Silk Road, stopping briefly at Turfan sites but not carrying out any excavations. He made a perilous north-south crossing of the Taklamakan desert in order to hasten to Khotan where he excavated more ancient sites, before finishing off his expedition with surveying in the Kunlun Mountains.

Physical description

Base fragment with foot ring of a shallow stoneware bowl. The outside is unglazed, but the inside is coated with a dark brown glaze. A concentric ring on the inside is left unglazed as it may have supported the foot ring of another pot stacked to it during firing.

Place of Origin

The Limes Watchtowers (discovered)

Date

618-906 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Dark brown glazed stoneware

Dimensions

Width: 8.9 cm maximum

Object history note

Excavated at watchtower T.XIXX of the so-called "limes" near Dunhuang.

Descriptive line

Sherd of a dark brown glazed stoneware bowl, Tang dynasty, China.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Stein, Marc Aurel. Serindia: detailed report of explorations in Central Asia and westernmost China. Oxford: Clarendon, 1921, vol. 2, p.789

Production Note

from the "Limes" Watchtowers near Dunhuang, Gansu

Materials

Stoneware

Techniques

Glazing

Categories

Ceramics

Collection

East Asia Collection

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