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Tang dynasty marbled ware

Can you help me with some information on Tang Dynasty funerary ware and in particluar those with a marbled glaze.

The reference books that I have read don't elaborate very much on the subject of marbled glazes and seem to exclusively refer to bowls, jars and ewers with regard to this. I have recently collected some Tang marble glazed pottery ware pieces which include figures of ladies. These seem to be similar to the sancai glazed ware and painted pottery figurines in terms of size modeling, clothing and hairstyles, and they also have unglazed head & chest with traces of some pigment decoration.

I would appreciate if you can tell me how common these marble glazed pieces are and where I could best authenticate them. I have attached a photograph of one of the pieces. This piece is 30.5cm high.


A technique invented during Tang

First of all we have to sort out your mentioning of marbled "glaze". That is quite important since to me it is mostly the actual clay body which is marbled in this kind of wares. The marbling technique seems to have been introduced during the Tang dynasty. They are by no means common and there is not much written specifically of marbled Tang ware, though.

The fabric of marbled wares was formed in several ways. Sometimes thin layers of dark brown- and buff colored clays were folded and twisted together to form bodies with elaborate veined patterns.

Sometimes contrasting clays were worked into rolls, sliced and then put together to form the walls of an object to form the final design. I am thinking specifically of headrests.

After the object was fashioned - probably by hand rather than on a wheel - so as not to smudge the clays - it was covered with a straw colored, amber or green glaze. Your figure seems to be covered with a light brown glaze.

A "false" marble ware was also produced by painting a solid color body with dark and light slips and then raking them to achieve the marbled effect.

Regarding authentication I believe that an experienced antiques dealer or museum curator could give you a quite reliable answer. If you want to be completely certain there is a way of making a scientific test of the clay - se further TL-test.

Sincerely,
Jan-Erik Nilsson



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