Vases are containers used for displaying something like flowers or storing items of religious or sentimental significance. They can be made from a variety of materials such as glass, crystal, metal or ceramic. A vase is a decorative household item and is often decorated to improve the beauty of its displayed contents. Over the years, the vase has been developed into an art medium by itself. The earliest existence of vases can be found in the Greek civilization. The Greeks used vases to depict historical and mythological scenes. Since then, vase making has developed significantly. The art of vase making has advanced to such levels, that the 2003 winner of the Turner Prize, Grayson Perry, was awarded the prize for vase art. Vases have various shapes, sizes and purposes.


Parts of a Vase:

A vase is designed according to a specified anatomy. The lowest portion is the foot which is a distinguishable base on which the vase is supported. Above the base, is the body. The body is the main and largest part of the vase. The body can be flute shaped for holding long stemmed flowers, they can be bowl shaped for containing ashes or they may be wide and flattened with upturned edges for floating flowers or candles. The vase curves inwards from the body to form the neck. The neck gives a vase a lengthened look. The edge of the vase is known as the lip. The lip is flared outwards. A lot of vases have handles too.


Purpose of Vases:

The primary use of a vase is to display flowers. But that is a relatively modern concept. In earlier times vases were used to hold water or other liquids, store grains, preserve the ashes of the dead, decorate gardens,hold cutlery etc. vases used for food storage were large, almost half the length of a man, and had handles. Ashes were stored in special vases called urns and vases used for decorating gardens were large enough to plant flowers or install bird feeders.

Types of Vases:

The term “amphora” is a derivative of the Greek “amphoreus” An amphora is a variety of ceramic vase with handles and a long, narrow neck. Amphorae were first made in Lebanon and Syria around 15th century B.C. From the Lebanese and Syrian coasts it spread throughout the ancient world. Very soon amphorae were used for transporting and storing fruits, vegetables, meat, fish, oil, wine, grains and other commodities. The Greeks manufactured amphorae on industrial scales. The amphora was an important means of storage and transportation till the 7th century. Amphorae are very useful to maritime archaeologists. By studying amphorae found in shipwrecks, a maritime archaeologist can derive information regarding the age and nationality of the wreck. At times, many amphorae have been found with their contents intact. Those have been instrumental in providing an idea of the eating habits and trading systems of the people of the civilization concerned. Amphorae are of two types; neck amphora and one-piece amphora. The neck amphora had a neck and body which met at sharp angles. One-piece amphorae are formed of a continuous curve in which the neck and body are molded together. Neck amphorae were very common in Greece, but were gradually replaced by the one-piece amphora. Most amphorae had pointed bases to make it easier to store them in upright position by embedding them in sand or soft ground. Amphorae varied in height from 1.5 m to less than 30 cm. Amphorae were used for various social and ceremonial purposes. These amphorae were of high quality and painted.

Ming Vase:

Ming vases are Chinese ceramic vases. The art of ceramic as fine arts has been in China since the dynastic periods. Chinese porcelain encompasses a wide range of high-fired ceramics. Chinese ceramics are different from western ceramics. Western people consider translucent ceramics as porcelain. In China, any thick or opaque ceramic object having a clear ringing note is considered as porcelain. Chinese ceramic or porcelain vases are of two types; high fired or low fired. Ming vases are extremely valuable items of pottery produced during the the rule of the Ming dynasty. Each ming vase is a work of art. They are prized for their beauty. The porcelain used for making ming vases were as thin as paper and sandwiched between two layers of glaze. Ming vases heralded the trend of painting vases. Ming vases were initially painted in black or brown with broad strokes, using economical lines. Later, blue paints became popular. Ming vases have fine grained bodies. The base color of ming vases is white with a bluish tinge and an unglazed buff tinged footring. The glaze on ming vases were quite thick and hazy due to bubbles. The glazes have a muslin like texture which results in numerous pinholes on the surface of the glaze. The remarkable beauty of ming vases are due to the unmatched paintings on them. The subjects of the paintings were generally natural objects. The expertise and delicacy with which these paintings were rendered still remain unmatched. Ming vases can be identified by a glaze free ring within a reddish brown footring. The world's most expensive vase is a ming vase.

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