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Feb

14

Later trade of Chinese export porcelain

By Ceramic Design



As trade developed, finer quality wares were shipped by private traders who rented space on the Dutch East India Company ships. The bulk export wares of the 18th century were typically teawares and dinner services, often Blue and white decorated with flowers, pine, prunus, bamboo or with pagoda landscapes, a style that inspired the Willow pattern. They were sometimes clobbered (enamelled) in the Netherlands and England to enhance their decorative appeal. By the late 18th century, imports from China were in decline. Tastes were changing and competition from new European factories with mass-production brought about industrialisation took its toll.

Highly decorative Canton porcelain was produced throughout the 19th century but the quality of wares was in decline. By the end of the century, Blue and white wares in the Kangxi style were produced in large quantities and almost every earlier style and type was copied into the 20th century.

Feb

8

Jian tea wares

By Ceramic Design



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.