Abstract – For Wine, Oil, Date Honey and the Tomb of a Chinese Queen – A Reciprocal Trade of Jars from China and Persia in Late Tang

For Wine. Oil, Date Honey and the Tomb of a Chinese Queen – A Reciprocal Trade of Jars from China and Persia in Late Tang

Dr. Eva Stroeber


The collection of stoneware jars at the Princessehof Museum, Leeuwarden, The Netherlands, is one of the most important and varied worldwide. It includes groups of jars from the Tang to the Qing dynasties.

The focus of this presentation will be on a group of jars dated into the late Tang dynasty, 8thto 10thcentury, two of them with inscriptions in Pahlevi, a middle Persian script, saying wine, mul, the other identified as Manichean, an old Turkic script, saying (y)ag“oil”.

Jars and fragments of this Tang type, made in the kilns of Chaozhou, Guangdong province, were found on many sites along the “Maritime Silk Road”, connecting China with the Middle East, and dominated by Tang China and the Abbassid empire, established by Arab Muslims. The main sites are

  • The islands of the archipelago
  • Mantai on Sri Lanka
  • Siraf
  • East Africa

On all of these sites, but also in the Philippines, Japan and several places in southern China, jars and fragments of turquoise glazed pottery, made in the Persian town of Basra, were also discovered, probably distributed from Siraf across Asia by local traders. Three turquoise green glazed Persian vases were found in the tomb of Liu Hua, wife of a king in Fujian, who had died in 930.

This presentation will explore the reciprocal trade in Chinese and Persian jars and discuss the use of these containers, trying to relate the epigraphical information on the Princessehof jars and other Chinese and Islamic sources to the goods which were traded in these jars and the networks of the traders. But what was the function of  Persian jars in the tomb of a Chinese queen?


Read Chinese Studies, East Asian Art history, philosophy and comparative religion in Germany and Taiwan. PhD on Chinese Buddhism.

Worked as curator for East Asian porcelain at the Porcelain Collection, Dresden, Germany, and the Museum Princessehof, Leeuwarden, the Netherlands.

The range of publications include the catalogueQuellen. Das Wasser in der Kunst Ostasiens, Hamburg 1992; “La Maladie der porcelain…“ Ostasiatisches Porzellan aus der Sammlung Augusts des Starke. East Asian Porcelain from the Collection of Augustus the Strong. Leipzig 2001; Ostasiatika.Sammlungskataloge des Herzog Anton Ulrich Museums Braunschweig, Braunschweig 2002; 10 000 Times Happiness. Symbols on Chinese Porcelain, Stuttgart 2011, and MING. Porcelain for a Globalised Trade,Stuttgart 2013.


She is now working on “transcultural” objects like jars, carved hornbills from Borneo – and cats in Asian art.