Récipient en forme d'urinal huzi 虎子

Grès, Céladon
H. 10 x D. 20.9 cm
Legs : Cernuschi, Henri
M.C. 4249

These pieces, the purpose of which has been much debated, are called huzi (tiger) in Chinese.  The oldest specimens, dating to before the Qin (221-207 BC), are in bronze and in lacquer. According to Huang Zhanyue, the huzi was an urinal and not a vessel for alcohol.
These vessels in porcellaneous stoneware with a celadon glaze are commonly found in tombs from the second half of the 3rd century and first half of the 4th century in Jiangsu and in Zhejiang. This new material emerged from production centres in the north of Zhejiang (part of the ancient kingdom of Yue) and the north of Jiangxi in the late Eastern Han dynasty. It derived from the dual local tradition of glazed stoneware and hard earthenware with or without a coating. For the body of the vessel porcelain stone was used, and for the glaze a mixture based on crushed porcelain stone and wood ash. The ceramics were wood-fired in reduction atmosphere in dragon-kilns at temperatures between 1170°C and 1240°C. Like other pieces of this type, the Cernuschi Museum huzi was fired, set on its flattened rump and unglazed. Several of these porcellaneous stonewares have inscriptions mentioning the name of the potter, indicating that the craftsman enjoyed a recognised status.
In its pleasing shape and carefully executed details the Cernuschi Museum huzi is similar to a specimen in the Royal Ontario Museum in Toronto (Mino-Tsiang, cat. 28) and another excavated from the tomb of Liu Bao 劉寶 dating from the second year of the Yongkang era  永康 (301) in Zoucheng county in Shandong (Wenwu, 2005, no. 1, p. 12, fig. 19), and also one from a tomb dating from the seventh year of the Yongjia era 永嘉 (313) at Mount Fenghuang 鳯凰山 in the sub-prefecture of Shaoxing 紹興 in Zhejiang (Wenwu, 1991, no. 6, p. 61, fig. 6).

Reference(s) : Zhanyue Huang  黄展嶽, « Guanyu fu hu xing qi yu huzi de wenti » 關於伏虎形器與虎子的問題 [la question des huzi et des récipients en forme de tigre couché], Wenwu 文物, 1999, n°5, p. 55-60.
Yutaka Mino -  Katherine R. Tsiang, Ice and green clouds: traditions of Chinese celadon, Indianapolis: Indianapolis Museum of Art ; Bloomington : university of Indiana Press, 1986.
Michèle  Pirazzoli-T'serstevens, « De l’efficacité plastique à la productivité : les grès porcelaineux du Jiangnan au IIIe-Ive siècles de notre ère », T’oung-Pao, 1998, vol. 84, fasc. 1-3, p. 21-61.