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Tea Storage Jar
Tea Storage Jar, 18th century
Porcelain with underglaze blue and overglaze enamel decoration (Arita ware)
17 3/4 x 12 1/16 inches (45.1 x 30.7 cm)
Purchased with the George W.B. Taylor Fund, 1955
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Looking Questions

  • Have you ever painted a picture on a round surface instead of a flat piece of paper? Is it easier or more difficult?
  • What did the artist choose to paint on this tea jar?
  • The flowering vine seems to be suspended in white space. Find the fence that holds up the flowers and leaves. What kind of line does the vine make as it wraps around the fence?
  • Why do you think the artist left a lot of empty white space?

Art Activity: Asymmetrical Nature Painting

As a class, look up the definition of asymmetrical in the glossary. Then, have students think of a simple, asymmetrical design from nature, such as a tree branch, a potted plant, or a clump of leaves. Using color pencils and watercolors, students should recreate this design on paper. Leave the background completely blank, like the maker of the tea jar has done. Begin with the pencils to draw the basic composition. Add more details with watercolors. Students can continue to layer with pencils and watercolors to create a sense of depth.

Research Idea: The History of the Tea Trade

Originally, this jar held ordinary dried leaf tea used for social drinking. When did people begin drinking tea? Where? Why? Why do many people drink tea in England, while most Americans drink coffee? Study the history of the tea trade, and how tea became such an important and popular item of trade and social life.

Group Activity: Difficult Words Made Easy

Symmetry and asymmetry are big words for simple ideas. Write the definitions of the two words on the blackboard and discuss their meanings. Give each student two pieces of graph paper and pencils, and ask them to fold each piece in half. Students should then make two different designs using simple geometric shapes, one symmetrical, and the other asymmetrical. Then, have students take the drawings to a class of younger students and practice teaching the concepts in a similar way. Younger students will enjoy learning from older students these complicated words for simple ideas.

For more information, please contact The Division of Education by phone at (215) 684-7580, by fax at (215) 236-4063, or by e-mail at .

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