Purchased with the assistance of The Art Fund, the Vallentin Bequest, Sir Percival David and the Universities China Committee
206 BC-0008 (made)
Flask in the shape of a silk cocoon, polished grey earthenware with buff clay slip, China, Western Han dynasty (206 BC-AD 8)
Height: 22.3 cm
Ceramics Study Galleries, Asia & Europe, room 137
This shape was extremely popular in the Zhou, Qin and Han dynasties. Silk was an important source of income and was often used as a form of money. Since the rearing of silk worms was fraught with difficulties, many superstitions developed, and ceramics such as this may have been used in the ritual practices of sericulture.