Water Vase

  • China
  • China, Six Dynasties period
  • 6c
  • Bronze
  • H-22.5 D-8
Catalogue Entry

This water vase is a ritual vessel used to contain sanctified water that originated in Indian Buddhism. Today, largely covered with a thick blue‐green patina, sections of the original sahari, “bronze that reverberates," bronze alloy can be seen between the patina. The form of this vessel is referred to in Japanese as oji or egg‐shaped because of its resemblance to the egg‐shaped jewel or oji worn by Crown Prince Shotoku. Popular in China from the Six Dynasties period through the Tang and transmitted to Japan, a similar example found at Horyuji (now in the Horyuji Treasure Collection, Tokyo National Museum) is thought to be either an example imported from China or one produced in Japan. The Miho example has a longer neck in proportion to its body than the Horyuji example, and here the neck is strongly constricted in its middle section. The vase has a taut appearance overall, down to the lid fitted with a jewel‐shaped button and finely drawn concentric bands. This imposing form closely resembles that of a vase excavated in a tomb dated to the Northern Qi dynasty and believed to date from the middle of the sixth century.