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Masterpiece Journey
2 hours
Undoubtedly, it is a big place with too many objects. No problem. Here is our guided tour in minute detail.

Shanghai Museum is one of China's most famous museums of ancient art. It has a collection of various types of 140,000 pieces of precious cultural relics, ten categories of which are on display. These cultural relics are carefully selected by our experts for your appreciation and your visit. Due to the large number of cultural relics on display, and the limited visiting time, you must be quite concerned about how to appreciate some of the best works in each gallery during your tour. This is a catalogue of cultural relics of special significance. They are remarkable for their craftsmanship and appearance. We hope you can enjoy the best works of ancient Chinese art history through this tour, and come to love and care more about our Museum.

Ancient Chinese Ceramics Gallery

  • 1
    Date: Banshan Type, Majiayao Culture (2600-2300 BC), Late Neolithic Age
    Dimensions: Height 40 cm, Diameter of mouth 13.6 cm, Diameter of bottom 13.7 cm
    Weight: 3,920 g
    Material: Pottery
    Named after the excavated Banshan Tomb in Gansu province, Banshan Type is the most typical pottery of Majiayao Culture with a history of about 4,300 to 4,600 years. Banshan Type painted pottery usually adopts black paints, mainly featuring various geometrical patterns, many of which are edged with black saw-tooth design in sleek and dynamic lines, presenting a vivid aesthetic feeling of primitive art. The pottery with its fine and smooth paste, full and plump shape and dense and complex pattern, possesses the typical features of Banshan Type painted pottery.
  • 2
    Xia Shang Zhou
    Date: Shang (16th - 11th century BC)
    Dimensions: Height 18 cm, Diameter of mouth 19.65 cm, Diameter of bottom 9.9 cm
    Weight: 1,060 g
    Material: Porcelain
    Proto-porcelain is a kind of very early celadon porcelain, popular in the Shang dynasty and the Warring States Period. It is molded with clay with an iron content of about 2%, and then fired in 1200 ℃ high temperature after manual glazing. This Zun looks noble and stylish in both shape and glaze and shares the same style with the pottery unearthed from the tombs of Yin Ruins Culture, Shang dynasty. It should be the drinking vessel used by the Shang royal family and a typical proto-porcelain of the Shang dynasty.
  • 3
    Sui and Tang Dynasty and Five Dynasties
    Date: Tang (AD 618-907)
    Dimensions: Overall height 39.2 cm, Length 38.7 cm 
    Weight: 2,730 g
    Material: Pottery
    Tri-color glazed pottery is the umbrella name of the polychrome glazed pottery of the Tang dynasty, mostly in yellow, green and white colors. This piece with a female figurine riding on a horse is vivid, realistic and lifelike. The horse has a slightly small head and stocky strong necks and shining eyes. Its hips are strong and round, and legs are long and slender. The horse has snow-white hair and its mane is combed neatly. The horsetail is tied into a small bun and the saddle decoration shows the utmost luxury. Its head slightly turns to the left, full of dynamic, just like a lifelike high bred steed in both expression and posture. The whole piece of the pottery is exquisite in workmanship and is a masterpiece of the tri-color glazed pottery of the Tang dynasty.
  • 4
    Sui and Tang Dynasty and Five Dynasties
    Date: Five Dynasties - Northern Song (AD 907-1127)
    Dimensions: Height 13.6 cm, Length 22.9 cm, Width 18.4 cm
    Weight: 1,430 g
    Material: Porcelain
    This porcelain pillow is white glazed all over, with smooth glaze, strong vitreous shine and white and refined body. A dense and smooth interlaced floral branch design is carved on the pillow surface all over, below which there is a flat seat in the shape of palace imitating timber architecture, the doors and windows, the gate arch, the foundation and the steps of which are lifelike. The front door is tightly closed and the back one half open with a man standing sideway in front of it. The whole work looks unique and ingenious. Porcelain pillows first were seen in the Tang dynasty and grew extensively popular in the Song and Jin dynasties. But, as the only piece of its kind in China’s domestic collections, such a porcelain pillow engraved with the design of palace and figures in openwork is rare.
  • 5
    Date: Southern Song (AD 1127-1279)
    Dimensions: Height 9.2 cm, Diameter of mouth 18.8 cm, Diameter of base 7.7 cm
    Weight: 950 g
    Material: Porcelain
    Ge Kiln is one of the five famous kilns of the Song dynasty, also the only one with its location yet to be found. This washer, with a thick body and smooth glaze of beige, is covered in crackles of different sizes on the surface of its glaze. As the big black crackles and small yellow ones are interwoven with each other, the pattern is called Jin Si Tie Xian meaning golden threads interwoven with iron wires. With its refined and structured craft and its dignified and elegant shape, this piece is a typical extant work of Ge Kiln.
  • 6
    Liao Jin Yuan
    Date: Liao (AD 916-1125)
    Dimensions: Height 29.9 cm, Diameter of mouth 23.9 cm, Diameter of base 14.3 cm
    Weight: 7,000 g
    Material: Porcelain
    The rim and outer wall of the jar is coated with white engobe and applied with transparent glaze on top. The black fills the space between the designs as ground, which are floral motifs dominated by the peony. With its size and rough and blunt craft, this jar embodies the general features of northern folk porcelain. But seen from its unique decoration technique and style, it is a reflection of Khitan ethnic style.
  • 7
    Liao Jin Yuan
    Date: Yuan (AD 1271-1368)
    Dimensions: Height 42.1 cm, Diameter of mouth 5.5 cm, Diameter of base 14 cm
    Weight: 4,500 g
    Material: Porcelain
    Decorated with blue-and-white patterns all over with rich layers, this vase is an exquisite work of underglaze blue porcelain of the Yuan dynasty. The Yunjian design of the decoration band on the shoulder is almost at the same level of the band of interlaced branches and peony sprays at the belly part, highlighting two different themes.
  • 8
    Date: Jiajing Reign Period (AD 1522-1566), Ming
    Dimensions: Height 33.9 cm, Diameter of mouth 19.6 cm, Diameter of base 25.3 cm, Diameter of belly 40.4 cm
    Material: Porcelain
    On the basis of the Chenghua Doucai technology, the famous Wucai (blue-and-white polychrome) porcelain was developed during the Jiajing and Wanli periods of the Ming dynasty. Blue-and-white polychrome, gaudy and fervent with simple and natural filling, was once overwhelming. The prevailing of the official polychrome porcelain during the Jiajing reign period was perhaps closely associated with the reverence of Taoism and the belief in exorcising evil spirits with polychrome colors by the Emperor Jiajing himself. The polychrome decorations usually take blue as ground and then five colors of red, yellow, blue, green and aubergine are added. These five colors may not all be available according to the pattern.
  • 9
    Date: Yongzheng Reign Period (1723-1735), Qing
    Dimensions: Height 39.5 cm, Diameter of mouth 10 cm, Diameter of base 12.3 cm
    Material: Porcelain
    Donated by Ms. Alice Cheng
    Famille Rose is a new over-glaze color variety developed on the basis of Kangxi polychrome porcelain of the Qing dynasty. It first appeared in the late Kangxi period and reached its prime in the Yongzheng period. Famille Rose porcelain later took the place of polychrome porcelain and became the mainstream of over-glaze colors of the Qing dynasty. The Yongzheng and Qianlong periods saw the most exquisite Famille Rose porcelain. Qianlong Famille Rose is remarkable for its diversified styling, beautiful and elegant colors, as well as its novelty decoration, while Yongzheng Famille Rose is even superior for its clean body and moist glaze, beautiful shape combined with soft color and elegant pattern. The peach tree and bat pattern delicately painted with Famille Rose on this olive-shaped vase implies the auspicious meaning of ‘felicity and longevity’ by bat and peach. The pattern of this theme is commonly used on big or small dishes, but is rarely seen on an olive-shaped vase. There are very few olive-shaped Famille Rose vases handed down and this is the only one seen.
  • 10
    Date: Yongzheng Reign Period (AD 1723-1735), Qing
    Dimensions: Height 45.5 cm, Diameter of mouth 40.6 cm, Diameter of base 32 cm
    Weight: 41.89 kg
    Material: Porcelain
    The outer wall of the jar is glazed with powder blue, decorated with cloud and dragon design relief in two groups. Each group has two dancing and flying dragons, snapping and clawing, playing with a fire pearl, with the sea water design under their bellies.
    The Yongzheng period marked the mastery of the iron content and reducing atmosphere control for the celadon-glazed porcelain. With the guaranteed celadon glaze color, this period promoted Chinese celadon glazed porcelain to new heights. This work has the standard hue and stable color of celadon and is in large and orderly shape and structure, signifying the high level molding and firing at that time. The distinctive cloud and dragon design is elaborate and the work on them is time-consuming. It is the high-cost masterpiece of the imperial kiln.