cylindrical container (very slightly flaring outward at center) decorated with applied leaf decorative band at bottom resembling egg and dart patterning; several incised and relief bands around body; wide saucer-shaped conical cover with pointed finial and stepped design, with one step edged in vertical indentations and lowest widest step edged in shorter leaf design; pale greyish glaze overall; white ceramic

Sutra jar, 1127-1279

Unknown artist, expand_more
Not on Viewexpand_more

2016 Accession Highlight

This cylindrical jar was manufactured in China during the 1100s but was meant for the Japanese market. It was made to store sutra scrolls, sacred Buddhist texts. At this time, the Buddhist idea of mofa (Latter Day of the Law) became prevalent, and Buddhists worried that the world was entering into a dark period when humankind would be incapable of following the Buddha’s teachings. In order to preserve Buddhist texts after this dark period passed, they buried sutra scrolls in great mounds of earth. Most sutra containers were made of bronze. Ceramic examples like this one made in southeast China are extremely rare.

In recent years, under the generous support of Bruce Dayton, the museum’s collection of early Chinese ceramic works dating from the Neolithic period to the Yuan dynasty (5th century bce–14th century ce) has grown rapidly. Until this acquisition, however, Mia held no example of a sutra jar or ceramic work that significantly relates to both Chinese and Japanese cultures. Therefore, the present work is an extremely welcome addition to the collection. It is also extremely rare to find an example of a ceramic sutra jar made in the 1100s in such excellent condition and with its original lid.

cylindrical container (very slightly flaring outward at center) decorated with applied leaf decorative band at bottom resembling egg and dart patterning; several incised and relief bands around body; wide saucer-shaped conical cover with pointed finial and stepped design, with one step edged in vertical indentations and lowest widest step edged in shorter leaf design; pale greyish glaze overall; white ceramic