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if I could put my soul in a jar...

Stoneware with maceladon glaze

H. 18 " W. 11"

As an introduction to basic traditional ceramic techniques, we were assigned to choose a traditional/historical vessel and research its significance in its era. We then had to apply our interpretation or own significance to the vessel and design and make a min. 18" vessel.


I chose traditional Chinese vessel and applied my own Indonesian traditions to create a self-portrait of my origins. 

Chosen Traditional Vessel: 

Húnpíng (魂瓶)

Húnpíng funerary urns are a type of Yue ware often found in tombs during the Han Dynasty. Its characteristics can be traced back to  the Jiangnan region in modern southern Jiangsu and Zhejiang provinces. 

It was often referred to as "spirit jar" or "soul jar", but bulbous bottom supported an architectural top that was supposed to be the place the spirit resided in. The jars didn't have tops but had entrances typically 4 to allow easy access for the soul perhaps.


The architectural tops resembled palaces in tiers, each tier was often accompanied with servants, entertainers, plants and animals. This was a Daoist vision of paradise. 


Funerary urns are supposed to be a reflection of the owner's origins, where they came from. I chose to add Indonesian elements to my funerary jar because that is where I am from.

Instead of a Chinese palace, I looked at traditional Javanese houses or joglo, the shape of the roof often can tell one's social and economic status, like how palaces tells a person's status. This sort of architecture is something I am familiar with. 


To tie the bulbous body of the vessel and the architectural top, I carved out flower and vine patterns on the vessel's narrow top. These carvings are called jepara and came from the city Jogja in Java. The carvings of the flowers and vines intertwining each other means unity in diversity, an expression of Indonesia's unique and diverse culture. 

Thank you for viewing!

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