Chinese / Two Bowls / Jin period, mid-12th centuryChinese
Two Bowls
Jin period, mid-12th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Chinese
Creator Name-CRT: Chinese
Title: Two Bowls
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1134
Creation End Date: 1266
Creation Date: Jin period, mid-12th century
Creation Place: China, Shanxi Province
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Classification Term: Ceramics
Materials and Techniques: Stoneware with carved and combed design under glaze (Yaozhou ware)
Dimensions: Each H. 2 1/8 in. (5.4 cm); D. 5 3/8 in. (13.7 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.133 and 1979.134
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Context: Ceramics made in China during the Song period (960-1279) are among the most influential and revered in the world: they are noted for their elegant, simple shapes, lush glazes, and lively designs. These ceramics are admired in part because of the complicated and varied technologies used in their manufacture. Since the late 12th and early 13th centuries, five of the wares produced during this period--Ding, Ru, Jun, Guan, and Ge--have been designated the "five great wares" of China.

Perhaps the most popular of all Song-era ceramics were the wares colored with green-blue-gray glazes. Yaozhou wares, such as the two small bowls seen here, were a widely distributed green-glazed ceramic, generally believed to have been made for popular consumption rather than for the court. Thirteenth-century Chinese records indicate that Yaozhou wares were considered crude and were used by restaurants because of their durability. Yaozhou wares are named after the former name of the Tongchuan region of Shaanxi Province, where the majority and the best of these pieces were manufactured. Noted for their deeply carved designs, Yaozhou wares have light gray bodies and thick, olive-green glazes. The designs and shapes of Yaozhou wares are closely related to those of Ding wares; in the late 11th and early 12th centuries, the technical innovations made at the Ding kilns were also used in the production of Yaozhou wares. These include the use of stepped saggars for firing vessels, the upside-down (fushao) firing technique, and the use of ceramic molds to impress designs on the pieces. The introduction of reusable molds also facilitated mass production.

The Yaozhou kilns continued production during the Jin dynasty (1115-1234) in northern China. (The Jin had forced the Song rulers to flee south, where they established the Southern Song court [1126-1279].) These two bowls, characteristic of Jin-period ceramics, are decorated with lotus flowers surrounded by swirling waves, which date them to the mid-12th century. The lotus flowers were carved and the wave patterns combed. The sketchy treatment of the lotuses and the reliance on the time-saving comb are typical of the 12th-century practice of mass production.

Several reasons have been suggested for the popularity of green-glazed wares in Chinese ceramic history: green glazes derived from iron oxides are relatively easy to produce and were among the first glazes created in China. The interest in green glaze has also been linked to the Chinese preference for jade.

Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 63.
Related Document Description: Christie, Manson, and Woods. Chinese Ceramics (auction, London, May 24, 1966), pl. 11.
Related Document Description: Mostra d'arte cinese: Settimo centenario di Marco Polo. Venice: Palazzo Ducale, 1954, p. 120.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.133-134
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright Asia Society

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