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Pilgrim Flask

A work made of earthenware with three-color (sancai) lead glazes.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of earthenware with three-color (sancai) lead glazes.


Tang dynasty (618–907 A.D.), first half of 8th century



About this artwork

Trans-Asiatic trade expanded the Chinese repertoire of simple, wheel-thrown clay shapes to include composite forms pressed in molds. This pilgrim flask—a vessel shape that may imitate forms originally made in glass, leather, or metalwork —depicts a young boy adorned with a billowing scarf, who dances with a lion. Although similar images can be traced back to Hellenistic Greece (c. 300-200 B.C.), the extent of such Classical influence on the much later art of Tang dynasty China has yet to be determined.

This vessel displays a fluid “three-color” (sancai) glaze, named after the archetypical combination of bright green, amber, and white (transparent) lead-rich glazes that have been colored with carefully measured recipes of metallic oxides. The green derives from copper and the amber from iron.


On View, Gallery 105


Arts of Asia


Pilgrim Flask


China (Object made in)


701 CE–750 CE


Earthenware with three-color (sancai) lead glazes


19.2 × 15.5 × 14.5 cm (7.6 × 6.1 × 5.7 in.)

Credit Line

Bequest of Henry C. Schwab

Reference Number


IIIF Manifest  The International Image Interoperability Framework (IIIF) represents a set of open standards that enables rich access to digital media from libraries, archives, museums, and other cultural institutions around the world.

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Extended information about this artwork

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