This little beauty comes from one of those treasure-cave antique shops. When I rang the door-bell it took a long time before the door opened. At last a very old lady came to the door. The shop was stacked with all sorts of antiques. After browsing a while I told het I collect early Chinese ceramics. Ah, she said, follow me. Behind a closed-door was a small stacked room with a glazed cabinet full of early chinese ceramics. At least that is what she firmly believed. Even at that early stage of my collecting I had a lot of doubts on many of the pieces. About this little sancai container she told me it was her own reference piece. I could not resist buying it.
It measures only 5 cm, but is beautifully potted. The clay is a white Kaolin based clay, smooth from a lot of handling. The three colored Sancai glaze covers the top half of the outside. It dates from the Tang dynasty 618-907.
For a beginning collector Sancai wares are a very difficult area. There are numerous fakes around, and I doubted this piece for a long time. I found out when posting this piece, I even did not file it in my documentation. Now, after some more experience and having it checked by two renowned dealers I’m pretty sure about it.
Sancai glaze is a lead glaze, fired on about 800 degrees. There are four colors, white, brown and green as shown on this piece, and then there is the rare cobalt bleu.
These sets were burial pieces, mostly containing seven ‘star’ cups (sometimes more) circling a ‘moon’ water container. Some sets of cups were glazed onto the tray.