North China
Northern Song period, 12th century
Stoneware with sgrafitto design in slip under glaze (Cizhou ware, probably from Xiuwu or Cizhou)
H. 12 1/2 in. (31.8 cm), D. 8 1/2 in. (21.6 cm); 1979.141

Artist Comments

Milton Glaser
Most decoration applied to ceramic objects is generally conceived in two dimensions. In this remarkable vase the surface design echoes the total three dimensional form of the object from any angle including top down. The decorative treatment amplifies the physical attributes of the vase. As the surface is rotated an amazingly varied panorama emerges. The boldness and confidence of the design is enhanced by the energetic arid expressive line that is a consequence of scratching through the layers of color. The resistance of the surface produces a completely different effect than a painted line. The surface of the vase is more like the leathery skin of some unknown animal than the customary smooth and reflective surface that characterizes most glazed pottery. Although, at first glance the vase appears to be black and white, closer scrutiny reveals that it is made of two colors that simply have no name.