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Four-handled Vase

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Four-handled Vase


Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368)

Cizhou kiln is located in Handan, Hebei province In the Yuan dynasty, the Cizhou kiln mainly produced white glazed wares with black motifs, characterized with big size and thick bodies. Big basins, big jars, and pillows were major products. Dragon among clouds, phoenix among clouds, wild goose among clouds, and fish and grass were popular decoration patterns.



Black-glazed Vase Carved with Floral Design, Lingwu Ware

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Black-glazed Vase


Western Xia Dynasty (1038-1227)

Lingwu kiln is located in Lingwu, Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region By comparison, historians found the clay and glaze of this vessel similar to the excavated Lingwu wares in Ningxia Hui Autonomous Region in terms of the clay body and the glaze type. Therefore, this vase is considered a Lingwu ware. Sharing the same glaze colors and subject matters of the motif, porcelain wares of the Western Xia dynasty were deeply affected by the style of Cizhou wares in Hebei province. However, Lingwu wares look strong and wild, reflecting the ethnic characteristics.



Black Pottery Pot with Double Rings

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Black Pottery Pot with Double Rings

Longshan Culture (ca. 2400-2000 BCE), Neolithic Era (ca. 10000- ca. 2000 BCE)

The black pottery was fired in a strongly reducing atmosphere (lacking oxygen); during the last stage of firing the fire was extinguished, the kiln was closed, and water was poured from the top chimney; carbon element from the fuel infiltrated the ceramic wall through the steam. Longshan is a Late Neolithic culture. It was named after Longshan village, Zhangqiu county, Shandong province where it was first recognized in 1928. The vessel was made on a rotating wheel which became common during the Longshan culture, and vessels became thinner than before



Jian tea wares

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Jian blackwares, mainly comprising tea wares, were made at kilns located in Jianyang of Fujian province. They reached the peak of their popularity during the Song dynasty. The wares were made using locally-won, iron-rich clays and fired in an oxidising atmosphere at temperatures in the region of 1300 °C. The glaze was made using clay similar to that used for forming the body, except fluxed with wood-ash. At high temperatures the molten glaze separate to produce a pattern called hare’s fur. When Jian wares were set tilted for firing, drips run down the side, creating evidence of liquid glaze pooling.

Jian tea bowlSong Dynasty, Metropolitan Museum of Art

The hare’s fur Jian tea bowl illustrated in the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York was made during the Song dynasty (960 to 1279 AD) and exhibits the typical pooling, or thickening, of the glaze near the bottom. The hare’s fur patterning in the glaze of this bowl resulted from the random effect of phase separation during early cooling in the kiln and is unique to this bowl. This phase separation in the iron-rich glazes of Chinese blackwares was also used to produce the well-known oil-spot, teadust and partridge-feather glaze effects. No two bowls have identical patterning. The bowl also has a dark brown iron-foot which is typical of this style. It would have been fired, probably with several thousand other pieces, each in its own stackable saggar, in a single-firing in a large dragon kiln. One such kiln, built on the side of a steep hill, was almost 150 metres in length, though most Jian dragon kilns were fewer than 100 metres in length.

An 11th century resident of Fujian wrote:

Tea is of light colour and looks best in black cups. The cups made at Jianyang are bluish-black in colour, marked like the fur of a hare. Being of rather thick fabric they retain the heat, so that when once warmed through they cool very slowly, and they are additionally valued on this account. None of the cups produced at other places can rival these. Blue and white cups are not used by those who give tea-tasting parties.

At the time, tea was prepared by whisking powdered leaves that had been pressed into dried cakes together with hot water, (somewhat akin to matcha in Japanese Tea Ceremony). The water added to this powder produced a white froth that would stand out better against a dark bowl. Tastes in preparation changed during the Ming dynasty; the Hongwu Emperor himself preferred leaves to powdered cakes, and would accept only leaf tea as tribute from tea-producing regions. Leaf tea, in contrast to powdered tea, was prepared by steeping whole leaves in boiling water – a process that led to the invention of the teapot and subsequent popularity of Yixing wares over the dark tea bowls.

Jian tea wares of the Song dynasty were also greatly appreciated and copied in Japan, where they were known as tenmoku wares.