Artifact Identification


During the course of studying the Chinese in Montana, it is clear that the internet lacks a central location to help the public and archaeologists identify Chinese artifacts. This section of the Chinese in Montana website is completed in partnership with Gary Weisz, an avocational archaeologist in Idaho who possesses a tremendous collection of comparative materials he has acquired over the years. I hope to expand the artifact identification section through additional submissions of artifact photos. If anyone has additional information or more photographs relating please send Merritt an email that can be found under “Contact Us”. 

Chinese Ceramics


Glass Items

Opium Paraphernalia

Personal Items



Chinese Ceramics

Ceramics imported by Chinese immigrants in the United States covered both table/serving and utilitarian wares. The styles of Chinese tableware included "Bamboo", "Double Happiness"and/or "Sweet Pea", "Celadon,""Four Flowers" or "Four Seasons", and designs. Chinese utility ceramics are generally a brown-glazed stoneware that can come in a variety of shapes and sizes depending on what the vessel originally held. For example, the spouted jar vessel usually contained soy sauce or another type of sauce when it was originally purchased hence the spout. On the other hand the wide-mouthed or globular jar usually held dried or pickled foods such as eggs or onions, as well as dried rice and sugar. Archaeologists discover fragments of all these styles at sites in Montana and elsewhere in the United States, Canada, Australia, and New Zealand. Unless otherwise noted, all items on this page are in the private collection of Gary Weisz. In addition, all photos on this page are by Gary Weisz.


Double Happiness or Sweet Pea


Four Seasons or Four Flowers

Ginger Jar

Brown-Glazed Stoneware

Unidentified Ceramic Styles

Other Chinese Ceramics

Brown-Glazed Stoneware Ceramics

Brown-glazed stoneware liquor jar from Hope, Idaho. Vessel originally held a type of alcohol usually made from distilled sorghum. You can still purchase Chinese or Taiwanese liquor in these types of vessels today.

Brown-glazed stoneware liquor jar with embossed "Federal Law Forbids Sale or Reuse Of This Bottle" and "Wing Fung Hong China". The U.S. government required all liquor bottles to have the "Federal Law" embossing between 1935 and 1964.

Brown-glazed stoneware spouted jar, purchased from Bangkok, Thailand.

spouted jar

Brown-glazed stoneware, wide-mouthed jar (also known as a shouldered food jar). Would have had an unglazed salmon or tan-colored lid to seal.

wide mouth

Brown-glazed stoneware, straight-sided jar, purchased from Oregon. Similar jars recovered at Los Angeles Chinatown, Butte Chinatown, and German Gulch, Montana.

straight sided jar

Brown-glazed stoneware, straight-sided jar with unglazed lid, from Malaysia. Similar jars recovered at Los Angeles Chinatown.

straight sided

Brown-glazed stoneware, globular jar purchased from Oregon. Note how top of jar sagged before firing.

globular jar

Large brown-glazed stoneware jar from Borneo, tule at top in centimeters.


Unglazed stoneware Chinese jar lids, used for a variety of utilitarian vessels. According to Dr. Wegars these were often used on oil lamps when oil lamp dishes were not available.

unglazed lids