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Persian Ceramic Pot

The Persian Ceramic Pot (波斯陶壶)
Eastern Han Dynasty (25 - 220 AD)
Ceramic with Turquoise Glaze/ 34.4 centimeter high
Excavated in 2008 from the Liaowei Tomb no. 13B, Hepu County, Guangxi Autonomous Region
Hepu District Museum, Hepu, China

This beautiful pot has been discovered in one of the many Han-period tombs of the Hepu burial site in the Guangxi Autonomous region. So far, only one of these pots has been found. The pot has an elongated round body and a single handle. It has a smooth surface that is covered by a cracked turquoise-colored glaze. Analysis of this glaze has revealed a chemical composition that is very different from formulas commonly used during the Han Dynasty. Furthermore, the pot’s shape and production method resemble ceramic traditions from the Parthian empire and indicate a Persian root (Xiong 2015). A pot, discovered at the Seleucia site in modern Iraq, in particular, looks very similar. Other ceramics that bear a resemblance have been found at the at the Pattanam site in West India, at the Tissamaharama site in Sri Lanka and at Phu Khao Thong in Thailand (Xiong 2018, Schenk 2007; Bellina 2014; Cherian & Menon 2014). This indicates that the Persian Pot of Hepu might have been transported to the south China coast over maritime trade routes.

  • Bellina B. 2014. The Development of Coastal Polities in the Upper Thai-Malay Peninsula. In N. Reviere & S. Murphy (ed.) Before Siam Was Born: New Insights on the At and Archaeology of Pre-Modern Thailand and its Neighboring Regions. River Books.
  • Cherian P.J. & Jaya Menon. 2014. Unearthing Pattanam. New Delhi: National Museum Press.
  • Schenk H. 2007. Parthian Glazed Pottery from Sri Lanka and the Indian Ocean Trade. Zeitschrift fur Archaologie Außereuropäische Kulturen 2: 57-90.
  • Xiong Zhaoming. 2015. Archaeological Discovery: The Hepu Port on the Maritime Silk Road of the Han Dynasty. Beijing: Cultural Relics Press.
  • Xiong Zhaoming. 2018. Handai Hepu gang de kaoguxue yanjiu [Archaeological Study on the Hepu Port of the Han Dynasty]. Cultural Relics Press.


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