Vase Flying Man, Monsters, & Phoenix 22.86cm
Suggested Attribution: possibly Wei or Northern Qi
Size: 22.86 cm
Description: We call this vase with lid the flying man vessel because it shows a remarkable image of a man carved in relief on the four sides, and it appears as if he’s flying downward with his head turned up and his arms and his hands held below below his head. His full rounded body stands out in convex relief and is hollowed out from within for remarkable translucency (see all images, please) Looking upward on his upside down body, you see his legs spread to the right and to the left and his feet with toes pointed outward or slew footed as Kushan figures are often represented. He’s wearing pants as you can see pant-cuffs above the shoes. which are rolled at the end. He has human features with the exception of the ears which are pointed. His neck has a collar that hangs below his head and between his arms in the form of a Fleur de lis upside down and extends above his head, between his wings as a palmette shaped crest. Below the man are the heads of two dragons with mouths open showing fangs. Their lower bodies start from above and they hang down like the man and they terminate with upturned heads just below the mans feet. Their claws are really well carved.
Continuing at the bottom register of the vase, the four corners have a fantastic bird type creature with a plumed crest that spreads like the tail of a peacock. The beaks of the birds are incredibly carved and come to very delicate points, both the upper and lower beak. And if you look at it from the profile you would be amazed that someone would have the confidence and audacity to take it that far and risk one of those delicate ends of the beak breaking off from the heat or vibration of the abrading tool. There is a stylised arm type feature, well done in relief, that comes from the chest and curls up under the beak. Over the knees is a apron like cover and the feet are formed in a sort of downward and scrolling upward manneristic way. The coloration off the piece shows surface crystal disaggregation. And the pinkish-red that colors some areas is indicative of either ocre or cinnabar saturation that penetrates from inside, the outside still maintaining a fine surface polish.
Going up to the top on the four corners, just below the lids we have the guardian monster creatures with pendulous breasts and fanged bear like heads and the rounded stomachs. They are sitting with their knees curled up, and they have very strong claws in the feet and as well as the hands. There is one of those in each corner; some unaffected by saturants that were described previously, others have beautiful a beautiful rose color. The lid has a Tao-tieh mask very well carved in relief as is everything on this vase: perfectly executed. And at the very top we have a curled feline type creature with a forked tongue that is elongated and comes out serpent like and each fork of the tongue makes an upward curl. In later dynasties similar forked tongues were often done from the mouths of curling creatures on the top of seals. Please scroll down and click video bar to start 360 deg. rotational view of this fabulous carving. You may pause and enlarge view to full screen via icons on video screen; take mouse from screen to remove video bar from view.
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