The ceramics of the early first millennium B.C. from Jiangxi province in central China are characterized by stamped or impressed geometric designs on high-fired earthenwares, predominantly on vessels of simple forms with high shoulders, short necks, and broad mouths. This jar has an unusually wide, buoyant form and is decorated with three bands of delicately stamped geometric designs: a wave pattern of fine, closely spaced lines around the mouth; a “waffle” pattern where double parallel lines crisscross to form multiple squares on the shoulder; and hatched squares aligned diagonally on the body. On opposite sides of the shoulders are two pairs of applied handles: one set of rings (one lost) attached by lugs, and one pair of horizontal twisted cords.
Despite the freedom with which the pot was thrown and decorated, there is considerable refinement in its simplicity of shape and crispness of design. During the Eastern Zhou dynasty, one extreme within the ceramic tradition was distinguished by its magnificent imitations of the ornate bronzes of the period. This jar represents the other extreme—simple, elegant, “true” ceramic forms decorated with integrated surface designs based largely on contemporary fabric and textile patterns. Its comparatively large size and varied decorative patterns indicate that it may have been used for ritual as well as utilitarian purposes.