Until recent times, most art was not created as “art for art’s sake.” Rather, decorative designs were used to adorn spiritual, ceremonial and every day, functional and didactic items. Local craftsmen, artisans and production centers created aesthetically pleasing personalized objects for daily use for the joy of it and to please gods and deities often using symbols believed to imbue them with auspicious powers. Common utilitarian objects included dishes, utensils and vessels for eating, cooking, storing or pouring foods, liquids or precious items (perfumes, oils, wines etc.) as well as tools, instruments, weapons and agricultural and weaving implements. These objects reflected the status, financial resources and interests and proclivities of the user or the person commissioning the objects. The VA collection highlights the unique and decorative appeal of these items. Ancient pottery, metalworks, carvings and other utilitarian pieces ranged from plain to highly decorative. Chinese craftsmen produced home items to promote fu to enter the house and Burmese hand looms and oxcarts were topped with carvings to protect the user in the hope that works of high quality would be created. Whatever their intended use or nature of their designs, utilitarian art and artifacts reflect unique skills and provide a sense of comfort and personalization of the environment or culture in which they were made.

Showing 1–12 of 28 results

  • Ancient Terracotta Oenochoe (Wine Jug), Roman North Africa (3197A-UOM) $275

    H: 4.5”  W: 3”  D: 2.75” | FREE SHIPPING!

    This small wine jug was created in a Roman North Africa production center for domestic use and exported elsewhere in the empire. As the poor could only afford practical objects, potters made many functional objects using inexpensive long-lasting materials.

  • Ancient Earthenware Carinated Flagon with Handle, Roman North Africa (3188BOB)

    H: 8.5”  Dia: 5.5” | FREE SHIPPING!

    The shape of this elegant carinated ancient earthenware  pouring vessel used to hold and dispense potable liquids:  water, wine and other drinks. They were used to hydrate everyone including laborers, field workers, ship-rowers, army personnel and people in their homes and were placed wherever they were needed.

  • Ancient Earthenware Carinated Flagon, Roman North Africa (3191BLB)

    H: 4.5”  W: 3”  D: 2.75” | FREE SHIPPING!

    This Roman ceramic flagon is a uniquely shaped vessel used to store and pour potable liquids. A crème slip carinated jug with a high profile and a trefoil pouring spout, it has a strap handle attached from the carinated edge to just below the rim for easy handling.

  • Ancient Earthenware Jarlet, Roman North Africa (3195A-DAE) $225

    H: 4.625”  Dia: 3.625″ | FREE SHIPPING

    Earthenware pottery jarlets from Roman North Africa were used as oil, perfume, ointment or cosmetic containers and are a mini version of a Greek wine jug (oenochoe). Not used for wine, it has no handle, its shape fits well in the hand making it easy to grip and it is idecorated with ribbing and grooved furrows) around its body.

  • Ancient Earthenware Shallow Bowl, Roman North Africa (3184PKM)

    H: 2.875” Dia: 7.5” | FREE SHIPPING!

    This finely shaped red clay earthenware piece is less typical than other Roman bowls. Its thin walls are taller and lighter, and a red band circles it and angles inward a bit on the inside.

  • Ancient Large Stamped Red Platter, Roman North Africa (3185BCA) $485

    H: 2.25”  Dia: 14.5″ | FOR SHIPPING INFORMATION CONTACT US AT 213-568-3030

    This ancient serving plate is remarkable for its survival, size, stamped designs and graceful simplicity. It is known as ARS (African Red Slip). Platters of this size are rare and, when they are found, they are usually in multiple broken pieces that have significant losses.

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  • Ancient Lekanis Dish, Magna Graecia (3247BHK) $575

    H: 3.625”  Dia: 3.5″ | FREE SHIPPING!

    This diminutive but very elegant piece is a lekanis, a lid-covered dish originating in Greece embraced by artisans from Apulia in Magna Graecia in Southern Italy who adapted this form in their Xenon wares in the 6th century BCE. This terracotta lidded bowl is covered with pale matte salmon decorations over a black glazed body, a bowl highlighted with decorative meandering bands. Fathers in ancient times filled these bowls with small items of adornment and gave them to their daughters as a wedding gift, which would be a delightful tradition to uphold today.

  • Ancient Ribbed Oinochoe Wine Jug, Roman North Africa (3197B-EKB) $295

    Ht: 6.25”  W: 3.25”  D: 2.75” | FREE SHIPPING!

    This is an excellent example of the daily-use utilitarian earthenware oinochoe created for the masses. . Its body is tapered and ribbed from the everted rim to just above the flat, wide foot making it stable and attractive. It was made using a potters wheel, seen by the circle marks on the bottom and the uniform ribbing.

  • Ancient Terracotta Platter with Stamped Designs, Roman North Africa (3186A-VHA) $465

    H: 1.625” Dia: 10.125” | FREE SHIPPING!

    A fine ancient Roman platter produced for upper classes from the mid-1st century to the 7th century, this is refined and delicate and has stamped decorative images in complex circles.  Although rough areas with small losses remain, it is an ancient piece otherwise in very good condition that, especially considering its age and use, remains a remarkable surviving piece of history.

  • Antique Blue and White Porcelain Scholar’s Brush Holder, China (1933A-DOK)

    H: 3.25”  Dia: 3.25” | FREE SHIPPING!

    This is unusual piece was likely on a scholar’s desk along with pots, brushes, water droppers, boxes, ink stones and other daily used objects used for a variety of tasks: a brush holder, a paper weight and more. A weighty high-fired object with a wide hole in the center, it has a raised top to hold paint dripping from a brush and is painted with cobalt blue petaled flowers under its clear glaze that covers all but the bottom. Its round body is a landscape of a Chinese village, mountains in the distance and seas or lakes with the calligraphic name of the scholar owner Shu Dai Ji (舒逮吉). The scene and calligraphy are well drawn pairs with thick cobalt blue decorative borders above and below. It is in very good condition with expected discolorations and stains consistent with its long use of paints and ink.

  • Antique Carved Coconut Grater/Fruit Cutter, India (9225D-UKH) $250

    H: 5.125″  W: 21.5″  D: 9″ | FOR SHIPPING INFORMATION CONTACT US AT 213-568-3030

    Hand carved coconut cutters like this were commonly used in India and Thailand to facilitate the difficult task of extracting all parts of the coconut that were routinely used in these cultures. Carvers took pleasure in creating unique and functional folk art tools with local artistic motifs. Long since discontinued, this carving with its warm and rustic feel would be a special decorative addition to any style kitchen and an interesting conversational piece.

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  • Antique Cast Iron Pot w/Handle and Hook, India (5014JAK) $150

    H: 12.75″  Dia: 7″ | FREE SHIPPING

    This is plain but attractive antique welded Indian iron pot is covered with a nice antique rust color patina and its clear lines indicate where each metal piece was joined in its construction. Generally formed in an egg shape with a rounded bottom for easy pouring, it has a tactile charm and character that would add to any kind of décor.

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