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vase

vase, vessel of pottery, glass, metal, stone, wood, or synthetic material. The pottery vase was anciently employed as a container for water (a hydria), wine and other products (an amphora), or oil (a lekythus), or for mixing and serving wine and water (a crater). It had one or two handles, sometimes a lip or spout, and frequently a base or foot; sometimes it was pointed to thrust into the ground or was set into a frame holder for support. Large covered vases were used for general storage purposes. The cinerary (cremation) vase, or urn, has been common throughout historical times, a famous one being the Portland vase. Modern vases are widely used for flowers. Beautiful in form and embellished with incised patterns, modeled or painted figures or scenes, and sometimes inscriptions, the vase became a work of art in early times. Greek painted vases are in form and color among the most exquisite examples of ancient art. Vases or their fragments discovered in burial chambers and through excavations in various countries serve as records of the manners, customs, and history of their peoples. Buddhist and Christian altar objects include the vase, usually of silver or gold with chased or modeled designs of exquisite workmanship. Bronze and brass are much employed for vases in Asia, as well as porcelain, carved jade, and crystal in China and enamelware in the Satsuma and Kutani vases of Japan. The vase of cloisonné is also much in evidence in East Asia. The Persian pottery type is famous for its blue-green color, French Sèvres for miniature medallions, English Wedgwood for cameo reliefs, and American Rookwood for rich tones and underglaze painting.

See J. H. Oakley, The Greek Vase (2013).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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