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Buddhism was introduced to China during the Eastern Han dynasty, and adherents accepted the practice of cremating the deceased. During the Three Kingdoms period to the Jin dynasty in the Jiangnan region, a type of large pottery jar was discovered in tombs. The lid of the jar was sculpted with buildings, scenery, and figures. Some jars were adorned with sculpted Buddhist images. These intricately sculpted vessels were called "Gu cang guan", literal meaning in Chinese seemed to be symbolising harvest, but they were actually used to store the ashes after cremation.


During the Han dynasty, there was a popular belief in achieving immortality and ascending to the heavens. Those seeking eternal life believed they could obtain elixirs from the immortals at the Kunlun Mountains in the west or at the three sacred mountains in the Eastern Sea. As a result, a censer representing the three scared mountains, known as "boshanlu," emerged among the daily life objects of the Han dynasty. The three sacred mountains refer to Penglai (nowadays Taiwan), Xianzhang (nowadays Okinawa), and Yingzhou (nowadays Japan). These incense burners, made of bronze or pottery, had a lid shaped like a mountain with multiple peaks and small holes in between for the fragrant smoke to escape when incense was burned. The body of the censer look like a stem bowl, but with a wide plate as the base that capable to hold water, symbolising the presence of immortals on the sea.


During the Han to Tang dynasties, a common type of pottery vessel was a small jar used for daily life. It had an open mouth, a long neck, and a rounded body, similar to a flower vase. The jar was known as “tuohu”, its actual function was that of a spittoon, commonly placed on tables. People would utilise to dispose of saliva, as well as food remnants such as bones and scraps.


With the rise of Daoist philosophy, the concept of the "Five Elements" - metal, wood, water, fire, and earth - began to influence the design of pottery utensils and burial objects. An archaeological find from the tombs of Han dynasty is the "five-linked Jar." It is composed of five interconnected small jars, each equipped with a lid. The arrangement of these jars symbolises the belief that the five elements created all things, and that all things are encompassed within them.


Since the late Tang dynasty, there had been changes in the design of the jar “tuohu”. Originally, the mouth of the jar was relatively narrow. Recognising this limitation, potter enlarged the mouth similar as a large bowl but the capacity of the body remained the same. The design with a larger top and a smaller bottom was interesting and practical for disposing of food remnants. The spittoon of later period followed this structure, with an open mouth and enlarged body, but it was placed on the ground.

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