1271 - 1368

The Story on the Vase

Hunan Provincial Museum

“Before the Great Wall Was Constructed”
Yuan Dynasty Porcelain
Pear-shaped blue-and-white vase

This porcelain vessel dating from the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368 AD) is shaped like a pear, thus is called the pear-shaped blue-and-white vase. Beautifully modeled in shape, it is vividly painted in exquisite blue-and-white glazes using colored dots of varied intensity in the pigment application. It is an exceptional piece of Yuan blue-and-white ware. Pear-shaped vases with flared lips were a form of wine vessel that came increasingly to be used for flower arranging. The design combines the Yuan dynasty fashion for drama with an expression of the martial spirit of the Qin dynasty general, Meng Tian. Though the story happened in Qin, the peoples’ clothing and objects are all in the Yuan style, reflecting the integration of Mongol and Han Chinese culture at that time.

The characters reads General Meng Tian

General Mengtian

The portrait of General Meng Tian on the vase

This painting illustrates a story of General Meng Tian,who served the first Emperor of China in the 3rd century B.C..According to the command of Emperor,General Meng Tian recruited civilians to constructing the Great Wall,for defending the empire against northern barbarians.

The painting is telling a story about military recruitment.

A man was seized by the soldiers

On the left side, there is a man kneeling down on the ground, and a soldier behind him is grabbing his collar.

It suggests this man planned to escape from the recruitment of military service but he was seized by soldiers.

Soldier with a bow in his hand

Moving around the vase, another soldier stands in front of the General Meng Tian, giving him a report while pointing with his left hand to the two figures in the last image: the soldier and the captive.

General Mengtian sitting on the chair,with a guard behind her.

General Meng Tian, who is sitting on a chair, listening to the soldier, and raising his right hand, looks like he is going to announce the punishment for the captive.

A subordinate stands behind him holding up a banner with the General’s name.

Dotted among these figures are pines, bamboos, mountains and rocks.

The design of the vase combines the Yuan Dynasty’s fashion for drama. That is why although the story happens in Qin Dynasty, the people’s clothing and objects are all in the Yuan style.

Line drawn image of the vase painting.
Credits: Story

Curator — Liu Yuchi,Digital Media Curator
Associate Curator — Xie Ying,Editor
Illustrator — Shi Youwen

Credits: All media
The story featured may in some cases have been created by an independent third party and may not always represent the views of the institutions, listed below, who have supplied the content.
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