Chinese / Bottle / Northern Song period, 12th centuryChinese
Northern Song period, 12th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Chinese
Creator Name-CRT: Chinese
Title: Bottle
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1100
Creation End Date: 1199
Creation Date: Northern Song period, 12th century
Creation Place: North China
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Classification Term: Ceramics
Materials and Techniques: Stoneware with sgraffito design in slip under glaze (Cizhou ware, probably from Xiuwu or Cizhou)
Dimensions: H. 12 1/2 in. (31.8 cm); D. 8 1/2 in. (21.6 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.141
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. Song ceramics are categorized into wares that often take the names of their areas of production. Cizhou wares, such as the sturdy bottle seen here, are typically thickly potted, boldly decorated ceramics that were made for popular consumption. The Cizhou kilns were located in Ci Prefecture, Hebei Province, but this type of ware was also made in many kilns throughout Hebei, Henan, and Shaanxi provinces.

The most common decoration of Cizhou ware consists of bold black-and-white patterns. These designs were created using many techniques, including carving and painting. The powerful peony flowers and leaves decorating this bottle were produced using the sgrafitto technique, one of the most complicated methods of decoration in ceramic technology. The light gray body of the vessel was first coated with a white slip, which was then covered with a black slip. After the outlines of the design were incised into the black slip, portions of this top slip were shaved away to reveal the white one underneath. Additional lines were then incised into the flowers and leaves to help articulate the design. Finally, the entire body (except for the foot) was coated with a thin, slightly whitish transparent glaze. Most of the vessels made using this technique were created in the late 11th and early 12th centuries. Current archaeological evidence suggests that this technique was most popular at the Xiuwu and Cizhou kilns in Henan Province.

The shape of this bottle, which is known as a meiping, is one of the most popular forms in the history of Chinese ceramics and was used for centuries. Although Western scholars have generally described vessels in this shape as vases, they were most likely bottles used for storing and serving wine.

Related Document Description: The Arts of the Sung Dynasty. London: Oriental Ceramic Society, 1960, p. 56, pl. 39.
Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 65.
Related Document Description: Calza, Gian Carlo. 'Musei: L'Asia in casa.' Antiquariato 34 (January 1983), p. 46.
Related Document Description: Mowry, Robert D. 'The Sophistication of Song Dynasty Ceramics.' Apollo (November 1983), pp. 398-400.
Related Document Description: Sotheby Parke Bernet. Chinese Ceramics (auction, London, July 8, 1975), lot 108.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.141
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, Asia Society

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