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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.


Pot with Whorl Design
c. 3000–2000 BC

14 3/4 x 13 inches

The Museum of Fine Arts, Houston

Museum purchase with funds provided by the Museum Collectors

Arts of Asia

This pot dates to the middle of the Jomon period (c. 3000–2000 BC), which was Japan's Neolithic era. Jomon translates to "vines or cords," and the period gets its name from the swirling decorative motifs often found on earthenware storage and cooking vessels produced during that time.  

Like most examples of Jomon ceramics, Pot with Whorl Design is fashioned from unwashed clay and still contains pebbles, shells, and bits of gravel. Jomon potters aimed to work with the natural elements and thus made no effort to remove them. Instead of using a potter's wheel, the artisans employed a hand-building method of layering coil upon coil of soft clay and molding vessels from the bottom up. As was the case in many other Neolithic societies, women likely produced these early ceramic pieces.