Celadon Vessel of Western Jin Dynasty

The main character of celadon vessel of mythical animal is that the vessel itself is well integrated with the mythical animal. The exaggerated expression of mythical animal seems to be mysterious more or less. So, what was the use of this celadon vessel? Who was its owner? We have to talk about it from the day when it was unearthed.

It is in pear-like shape, decorated with a mythical animal in belly. The mythical animal raised its head up, protrudes its eyes, and turns up its nose, thrusts out its tongue and grins, with a pearl in its mouth and some curly bread on the under jaw. The mythical animal squats with upper limbs rising. In both sides of the celadon vessel, there are textures of wings. There are five ridges of fin-shapes on the back, decorated with several designs symbolizing animal hair.

The Base of Zhou Tomb is a family cemetery of Zhou. According to the record in the "Genealogy of Zhou's Family in Yixing", there are six tombs of Western Jin Dynasty. According to the experts, tomb of Zhou Chu is the biggest and at the highest level, as he is a general died for the nation. So his corpse was fully honored by the court. In the Western Jin Dynasty, Zhou Chu had served successively as the satrap of Xinping and Guanghan, and had performed great military exploits. Later on, he led the army to fight and died in the place far away from hometown. The tomb of Zhou Chu is near to that of his father, Zhou Fang. Though Zhou Fang was not fully honored by the court like his son, the most special mortuary object in the whole family cemetery of Zhou was unearthed from his tomb, which was the celadon vessel of mythical animal.

Experts think that this celadon vessel was used for the storage of food. Maybe Zhou Chu made this for his dead father specially. Zhou Chu buried his father in so decent manners not only to show his love foe his father. Moreover, before his death, Zhou Fang was an official with many achievements for the nation and in a very high status.

Experts say that the mythical animal on this celadon vessel is in a very strange shape. Among the unearthed celadon culture relics, there is no one that is similar to this one. Why did Zhou Chu choose this celadon vessel as a mortuary object in his father's tomb? Experts think that this has something to do with people's worship to goods at that time.

In ancient China, weasels were both ritual vessels and wine weasels. The vessels in shape were usually put into tombs of aristocrats to protect tombs and drive out evil spirits. Experts presume the mythical animal on this animal vessel of Western Jin Dynasty look like an ancient animal called Qiong Qi. In Chinese ancient legends, there were four big vicious animals in ancient period named Tao Tie, Hun Dun, Qiong Qi and Tao Wu respectively. According to records in "The Classic of Mountains and Rivers", Qiong Qi looked like a tiger and cried like a dog. It has study brown hair all over the body, and a pair of wings on the front leg.

Depending on legends of Qiong Qi, the ancients created the animal on this celadon vessel of mythical animal. It was considered as Qiong Qi, but apparently its image was the result of craftsman's imagination. In period of Western Jin Dynasty of China, people's worship to animals gradually changed into the worship of various false gods. The mythical animal on celadon vessel reflects social customs in that period.

These vessels of Western Jin period are all form of animals, including chicken's head, sheep's head, tiger's head and so on. They are as strange as the celadon vessel of mythical animal, expressing people's worship of gods at that time. 

The celadon vessel of mythical animal not only reflects customs of Western Jin Dynasty of China, and it is also a masterpiece in celadon. Archeologists found that in the tomb of Zhou Fang were this celadon vessel of "in the second year of Yongning". The second year of Yongning is 302 A.D. From this, experts think this vessel of mythical animal was fired in 301 A.D. Thus it became a standard vessel. Experts use it as the standard to tell the firing age of other celadon works.

Celadon is one of the types of Chinese ancient porcelain, and is named after green color of its glaze and body. Before firing of celadon, green glaze would be applied to the surface of the porcelain body, and then it would be put into a kiln for firing. The formation of celadon color is due to the ferric oxide contained in the body glaze. As early as in Shang Dynasty, original celadon had appeared in China. Till the period of Western Jin Dynasty, firing of celadon had reached a very high level. Sage green, bright green and light green talked by the ancient people all referred to celadon. Yue Kiln of Tang Dynasty. Longquan Kiln, official kiln, Ru Kiln, Yaozhou Kiln of Song Dynasty, etc. all belong to celadon series. Celadon is famous for its fine porcelain quality, smooth line, elegant shape and pure color. Ancient people said celadon is as green as jade, as clear as a mirror with a sound like that of a resonator. At the bottom of the celadon vessel of mythical animal, there carved two characters of Dongzhou.  Experts conclude that it might be the name of a kiln or a place. Although definite production place cannot be decided at present, judging from its craftwork, it is an exquisite pottery with the quality very close to that of Tang and Song Dynasties.

The family cemetery of Zhou in Yixing, Jiangsu has been robbed for many times, however, the celadon vessel of mythical animal has been well preserved. It is really very rare. Its unique shape and decoration reflects the belief and funeral customs of ancient people, and it also provides the later generations with precious example in kind foe the study of history of Western Jin Dynasty.