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Each jar has a flared mouth rim, short neck, round foot, and a round body that narrows toward the foot. The cover is shaped as a canopy and has a round knob with a pointed end. The interior, exterior, and the area inside the foot are uniformly covered in yellow glaze. The neck has an inscription written in blue in regular-script characters, read right to left, that reads “sacrificial vessel of the Palace of Earthly Tranquility” (Kunning gong jiqi). The exterior base has a six-character blue inscription in regular script that indicates it was made during the Xuantong reign (1909–1911) of the Qing dynasty (1644–1911).
The jars were used in sacrificial rituals of the Qing inner court. In contrast to national sacrifices, the inner court rites were a continuation of the traditional ways of the Manchu people. Archives show how the ceramic vessels used in the sacrifices of the inner court were seen only in the Palace of Earthly Tranquility. These vessels may have been wine vessels (zun) used in the sacrifices in that palace.
Chinese entry by Tang Xuemei
Translated and edited by Adam J. Ensign and Kang Xiaolu