Skip to Content
Arts of Asia

The MFAH collections of art from China, India, Japan, Korea, and Southeast Asia reflect Houston’s diverse communities. Ancient and contemporary works are displayed together to create innovative juxtapositions.


Cizhou Wine Jar Painted with Birds and Bamboo
Late 13th-late 14th century

12 x 13 x 13 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Museum purchase

Arts of Asia

This wine jar is an example of Cizhou ware, a type of stoneware produced in the northern Chinese provinces from the 10th to 14th centuries. The bamboo and magpie motif is rendered in a loose and brushy style.

The pale background on this jar was achieved by applying a coating of slip (semi-liquid clay) to the body of the vessel before it was placed in the kiln for firing. In addition to slip painting, Cizhou ware incorporates a variety of decorative techniques such as sgraffito (a technique in which a top layer of color is scratched to reveal a color beneath), monochromatic and colored glazes, polychrome overglaze painting, and incised and stamped designs.

The birds and plants both have symbolic significance. Magpies were associated with happy news and the arrival of guests. Bamboo is considered to represent the intellectual ideals of upright integrity and accommodating flexibility.