China, Shaanxi Province
Northern Song period, late 11th-early 12th century
Stoneware with carved and combed design under glaze (Yaozhou ware)
H. 1 1/2 in. (3.8 cm), D. 7 in. (17.8 cm); 1979.148

Artist Comments

David Henry Hwang
The platter and ewer from China remind us that commercialism and globalization have shaped art and culture long before our own time. The ewer derives its form from Middle Eastern metalwork. Many such pieces were created between the fourteenth and sixteenth centuries for export; eventually, items once crafted for foreign tastes became fashionable within Yuan dynasty China itself. Similarly, the large size of the platter suggests it was made to sell abroad; significantly, the design may even represent the linking together of coins. I find these pieces provocative in light of modern debates which suggest a work is less "authentic" because it caters to a broad audience-for instance, the charge by some that the movie Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is inauthentic by virtue of its appeal to Western audiences. Should these pieces be considered suspect for the same reason, or might we simply enjoy their aesthetic beauty?