The chicken-head design may have come to Southeast Asia from regions further northwest, most likely as elegant metalware ewers, which were probably inspired by ancient Mediterranean wares. We first find their Chinese counterparts in the Eastern Jin Dynasty, but the Chinese handles connect with the ewers’ mouth on the top, whereas the typical Sassanian silver ewer of the fourth to seventh century, which many believe inspired the Chinese ceramic twin, stop at the shoulder.
I have rummaged through stacks of ceramics in local markets or village fairs throughout all of China, along both the northern and southern old Silk Road routes in Xinjiang numerous times, but none before had turned up. Yet here was a chicken-headed pot [Fig. 1] resembling more a teapot than an elegant ancestor, but the chicken head was undeniable. I asked the price and bought it. The year was 1998.