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Neolithic Egg Shell Black Pottery Vase, Longshan Culture

(2600 BC - 2000 BC)


A typical example of the egg shell black pottery made by the Longshan culture. Designs varied widely but all had this characteristic slender stem and multi section design, and many examples have a closed bulb middle section with a number of holes or slits. The ability to make such pottery is attributed to an oxygen reduced atmosphere during firing, which causes the pottery to become black. The piece has not been cleaned.


Longshan culture (ca. 2600–ca. 2000 B.C.)

The term "Longshan culture" is a general reference to several regional culture centers. In the lower Yellow River basin in northeastern China, the Dawenkou culture was succeeded by Shandong Longshan (ca. 2400–ca. 2000 B.C.). The Middle Yellow River region saw Yangshao culture gradually being replaced by the regional cultures of Shaanxi Longshan (ca. 2300–ca. 2000 B.C.), Henan Longshan (ca. 2600–ca. 2000 B.C.), and Taosi Longshan (ca. 2500–ca. 1900 B.C.). A strong connection to Longshan pottery is also apparent in Liangzhu culture (ca. 3300–ca. 2200 B.C.) in the lower Yangzi River basin in southeast China in the production of unpainted pottery, gui tripod ewers, pierced-stem bowl vessels, and thinly–potted black and gray wares using a reduced–oxygen firing process.

In the Shandong peninsula up until the fifth millennium B.C., ceramic techniques and decoration were similar to other areas. While nearby white wares continued to be produced, a unique potting tradition developed in Shandong by the early fourth millennium B.C. Feather–light wares emphasizing the beauty of the vessel shape were created with extremely thin bodies, and by the third millennium B.C., painted ceramic decoration had all but disappeared. Fast-speed potters' wheels appear to have been first used by Shandong potters. They allowed vessels of eggshell thinness to be produced that may be some the finest earthenware pottery ever made. The overall impression of lightness was sometimes further enhanced with pierced openwork designs. Unattainable with the use of an oxidation firing process, the thinness of the earthenware body was strengthened through the use of a reduced–oxygen firing and carbonization process that produced a completely black surface that was sometimes burnished. Delicate thin blackware stemcups, jars, and vases were found at Shandong Longshan sites but did not seem to have been produced by the Longshan cultures located in the Middle Yellow River region. (from Princeton University Asian Art)


Example: http://jjlallychineseart.com/images/sized/images/uploads/C3_w-440x573.jpg

Example: http://www.fengchunma.com/images/e01.jpg

Example: http://www.ibiblio.org/chinesehistory/contents/02cul/c03s04.html

More info from: www.britannica.com

A map of early Neolithic cultures in China.