Brandon was right in his speedy blog comment. It is a sagger that got a little too hot. Although you can't see from that photo, the bottom of the sagger isn't flat, but is somewhat conical shaped. So the space around the pot was minimal both above and below. Here is a description from Wikipedia of sagger:
Saggars are boxlike containers made of high fire clay or specialized fireclay which are used to enclose pots needing special treatment in the kiln. The word "saggar" is thought to have come from the word "safeguard." Historically, reusable saggars were used to protect or safeguard specialized glazes from open flame, smoke, gases and flying ash present in wood fired kilns. This technique was used to protect the surface of pottery in ancient China, Korea and Japan, and was popular in the industrial potteries of Great Britain. Saggars are still used for industrial ceramic production, shielding ware from variations in heat and kiln debris.The next piece is curious in that is is considered a "disposable" container in China. It contained wine and these pots are very inexpensive to buy. Tom says that the factory claims to make 5000 a day! Look here to see a picture of a simple device they use at the factory to glaze the bottles quickly.
The next pot has a nice surprise for the beholder when they open it. Tom thinks it's a kind of cosmetic "kit". Discreet, delicate, and fits in your purse. Seems like I remember my mother having a jar with this shape that had a powder puff in it. I don't think it was ceramic, though. Mom if you're reading this...
Above Tom's fireplace I found this nice group of pots. From China on the left to Germany and then over to Japan for the figural pieces which I believe are Haniwa. I should have taken more notes so that I could tell you more about these pieces. Usually Tom doesn't leave comments! but maybe he'll chime in for the sake of accuracy (which he's really into, and good at) and set the record straight. I love the painting on the bottle on the left, the handles and lip of the solid black bottle, and the big dent in the jug. The jug has these subtle drippy/runny markings that you may pick up if you click on the image to enlarge. They're not just wine/food stains but are in the surface/salt glaze of the pot. Any ideas?
Tomorrow I'll continue with some 19th c stoneware in Tom's collection. The pots are from New England, New York, and Ohio and they're pretty cool. (if you're into old pots)
Here's a new feature for the blog, check out today's flashback post.