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Dragon-Handled Amphora

A work made of earthenware with three-color (sancai) lead glazes.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of earthenware with three-color (sancai) lead glazes.


Tang dynasty, (A.D. 618–907), 1st half of 8th century



About this artwork

Many scholars suggest that this distinctive Tang form may have been inspired by earlier, Hellenistic ceramic and glass vessels deriving from the Greek amphora. If so, Chinese artisans thoroughly transformed that ancient shape: They created a high-shouldered silhouette with a slender neck, which is gracefully framed by curved handles, whose dragon heads bite the cupped mouth-rim in their open jaws.

This vessel displays a fluid "three-color" glaze, named after the archetypical combination of bright green, amber, and white (transparent) lead-rich glazes colored with carefully measured recipes of metallic oxides. The green derives from copper and the amber from iron.

On View

Asian Art, Gallery 105


Dragon-Handled Amphora




618 CE–907 CE


Earthenware with three-color (sancai) lead glazes


H. 38.7 cm (15.2 in.); diam. 17.5 cm (6.9 in.)

Credit Line

Lucy Maud Buckingham Collection

Reference Number


Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email . Information about image downloads and licensing is available here.


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