China, Late Northern Song Dynasty / Brush Washer, Ru Ware / c. 1101-1127China, Late Northern Song Dynasty
Brush Washer, Ru Ware
c. 1101-1127

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Chinese
Creator Dates/Places: China
Creator Active Place: China
Creator Name-CRT: China, Late Northern Song Dynasty
Title: Brush Washer, Ru Ware
Title Type: Primary
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1101
Creation End Date: 1127
Creation Date: c. 1101-1127
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Classification Term: Ceramic
Materials and Techniques: Gilt Bronze
Dimensions: Diameter: 12.8cm
AMICA Contributor: The Cleveland Museum of Art
Owner Location: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
ID Number: 1957.40
Credit Line: John L. Severance Fund
Context: In the late Northern Song court of emperor Huizong (ruled 1101?25), a new kind of ceramic was sought to serve the needs of the imperial household. The ultimate choice, a bluish-green glazed stoneware named Ru after the site of its manufacture at Ruzhou,near the Song capital, marked a radical departure from the former imperial preference for creamy white stonewares produced near Dingxian, in modern Hebei. Unlike Ding ware, typified by examples with thin transparent glazes, incised surface decoration, andmetal-banded lips, Ru ware is usually devoid of distracting ornament and covered with a relatively thick glaze of unsurpassed depth and complexity. This unassuming brush washer perfectly embodies the beauty of the Ru ware glaze. With the exception of thethree sesame seed-like marks left by kiln supports in the foot, its simple rounded shape is encased in variegated color that covers body, lip, and foot. Colored by small amounts of iron in the glaze, the modulation across the surface of the vessel results from air bubbles and irregularly ground particles suspended in the vitrified coating. The web of cracks that pattern the glazed surface add to the visual impact of this variation. Such crackling is produced when body and glaze cool at different rates after firing. Although frequently seen as a flaw in other wares, the Ru potters exploited the natural phenomenon for aesthetic effect. Providing a supremely subtle form of surface enrichment, these aspects are largely accidental and thus vary noticeably from piece to piece. The recent discovery of the Ru kiln site has proven the close relationship between the imperial ware made there and other northern celadons that were more widely produced for the commercial market. Representing one of the finest achievements of Chinese potters, Ru ware was unfortunately produced for a limited time apparently because of the Tartar invasion and the removal of the Song capital to Hangzhou in the south. Fewer than one hundred examples survive today. Despite its brief history, Ru ware had a tremendous influence on the southern ceramics produced throughout the remainder of the dynasty, obvious in the shapes, glazing, and firing of imperial wares like Guan as well as more popular products of the Longchuan celadon kilns. K.W.
AMICA ID: CMA_.1957.40
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, The Cleveland Museum of Art

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