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The Yuan Ceramic History Cololection
Dr Iwan Suwandy,MHA
Limited E-Book In CD-Rom Edition
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I have just read a best info related with the Yuan Ceramic written By Mr Koh,Seaceramic and before I have written about the Yuan Ceramic History Collections.
I hope after read this twoo best articles and added the value of yuan ceramic from auction the collectors will understand about the yuan ceramic,the best ceramic in the world.
DR Iwan suwandy,MHA
During the Yuan period, cizhou, Jun and Longquan wares continued to supply traditional products to large part of the domestic market.
The most important development was the increasing importance of Jingdezhen as a center for porcelain production.
An indication of its importance was the setting up of the official Fuliang porcelain bureau (浮梁瓷局) in A.D 1278 whose functions included supervision and management of porcelain production in Jingdezhen for official use.
Building on the foundation of Qingbai, Jingdezhen also developed the shufu wares. But the most important event was the creation of Yuan blue and white wares and underglaze copper red decoration. The blue and white displaced cizhou iron brown decoration as the main stream underglaze decoration in Ming and Qing Dynasty. This is such a popular product that many people actually equate Chinese ceramics with blue and white.
Yuan court continued the Song policy to encourage overseas ceramics trade. Longquan celadon was enormously popular as can be seen by the large quantity found overseas and in the number of Yuan longquan kilns sites. Jingdezhen Qingbai/shufu and blue and whites were also important export items.
During the Yuan period, Jun ware grew in popularity in Northern China. The number of kilns making Jun wares was enormous covering Henan, Hebei, Shanxi, and Inner Mongolia . The vessels consisted of mainly bowl, plates and with small number of jars, censers and vases. Interestingly, no Jun wares was excavated in region south of the Yangzi river.
They were essentially made for use domestically in Northern China. Yuan Jun vessels are typically heavily potted and have unglazed footring and base.
One rare exception of Southern China Jun produced during the period was in Zhejiang Jinhua region. In the Sinan shipwreck, there were some Jun wares which were from Jinhua Tiedian kiln (金华铁店窑).
Dr Iwan Comment
I never seen this type in Indonesia
Cizhou wares continued to enjoy popularity in Northern China and mainly produced for domestic use. However, some were also exported overseas and were excavated in Southeast Asia countries.
The main decorative style was underglaze iron-painted black/brown motif.
Dr Iwan Comment
I have found this type at west borneo Tanjungpura site Ketapang near Pawan River.
Longquan celadon reached the peak of its production during the Yuan dynasty. It is characterised by the production of large vessels such as large plates, guan jars and vases. This is a great achievement as large vessels are not easy to produced successfully. Besides the continued use of curved/impressed motif, molded motif in relief also gained popularity during this period. Some decorative elements such as iron-brown rust colour splashes/spots and biscuit form motif were also popular.
For more on longquan celadon, please read : Longquan wares
Compare with collections
Share by my friend edhie chen at facebook
Dr Iwan Comment
I found this type from west borneo tanjungpura sites,and from sea shipwreck treasure jepara dan Malacca straits
Qingbai and Shufu wares
Qingbai wares continued to be popular during the Yuan dynasty. During this period, some of the Qingbai products were decorated with iron-brown rust splashes/spots.
Yuan Qingbai horse on rider with brown spots
Dr Iwan Comment
I found this type at west borneo but brpken head and leg.
Yuan Qingbai with molded bird motif
Subsequently another form known as Shufu glaze was created. It is thick, opaque and resemble the colour of goose egg. The good ones however could have a sugary white tone. The rough ones usually have a grayish tinge to the glaze. The shufu vessels, consisting of mainly bowls and dishes, were made in Hutian kilns which were located outside Jingdezhen, Jiangxi province. Some of the bowls and dishes have moulded relief motif and the chinese two chinese characters shu fu [枢府] meaning “Privy council”. Hence, such glaze type wares were also termed shufu wares. Besides shufu, other characters included “tai xi” [太禧]meaning great happiness and “fu lu” [福禄] meaning good fortune and emolument could be found. However, majority have just either plain or molded relief motif of flowers, dragon or phoenix.
Such vessels are typically more thickly potted and for the bowls/dishes, there is pooling of glaze at the inner and outer mouth rim.
DR Iwan Comment
I found the same type,broken mouth without spout at Aceh near lhoksemawe,dan rhe spout from west borneo near Ketapang tanjung pura sites
The starting date for production of shufu is still uncertain. In the the Sinan wreck of about A.D 1325, there were some shufu wares. Some excavated examples in China with the word “tai xi” were probably made for the the official institution, Taixi Zongyin Yuan [太禧宗禋院] which dealt with religious rites of the imperial court. It was set up in A.D. 1328.
Hence, they should be made at least after A.D. 1328. A small number of shufu wares continued to be made in the Hongwu period.
The glaze was subsequently further improved and a pleasing sugary white glaze known as Tianbai [甜白] was produced during the Yongle period.
Some shufu wares were decorated with overglaze red/green motif. A very rare type was the embossed effect motif created by trailing the outline of motif with coloured-slip and completed with in-laid gold. Most the the examples in existent are in Shanghai museum. The enamels consisted of red, green, yellow, white, blue and torquose blue colour. Vessels with such unique decorative techniques consisted of bowls, saucers, stem cups/bowls and, yuhuchun vases and censers.
|Yuan overglaze red and green enameled stem cup|
For more on Shufu ware, please read: Shufu (luan bai) wares
Types of Jingdezhen Yuan Underglaze Decorations
In the Sinan cargo, there were a few pieces of qingbai glaze bowl with underglaze iron-brown decoration. The production of this category of decoration was apparently small and did not win many admirers. Cobalt oxide and to a much lesser extent copper oxide were found to be more suitable as medium for underglaze decoration on porcelain wares.
Underglaze blue and white wares
Yuan blue and whites were produced from about A.D 1330. It was earlier thought to be around A.D 1319 (6th year of yuanyou (元祐））based on a pair of vases excavated in Hubei. However, scientific test has confirmed that the colorant used is iron oxide and not cobalt
There are two types of Yuan blue and whites ie the high end type with vibrant blue and those small vessels with greyish tone blue. Those which are found in the Middle East are generally the high-end type. They consisted of large plates, guan jars, rectangular flat vases, meiping/ yuhuchun/ gourd-shape vases and big bowls. The best collections are now in Topkapu Saray in Istanbul Turkey and Ardebil in Iran Bustan in Tehran.
The motif and composition on the pieces was similar to that of the David Vase. It is termed Zhizheng type. The quality is consistently very high and typically with different motifs organised within separate band. For example, the David vase has 8 bands of motifs. The glaze on the vessel is also more transparent with a tinge of blue. It is very different from the Qingbai or shufu glaze found on those small blue and white vessels for the Southeast Asia market.
The varieties of motif are numerous ranging from many different type of flowers and floral scrolls, dragon, phoenix, crane, heron, mandarin duck, fish, mystical animals, Buddhist precious objects, clouds, waves, human and landscape depicting scene from ancient episode from the 3 kingdom and Han Dynasty. Visually the composition looks crowded as if the designer is adverse to leaving empty spaces. But they do not look dis-organised or messy. Another interesting approach is having some of the motifs reserved in a blue background.
Most of the lower quality blue and whites, such as small ewers, small jarlets, cups and bowls with a Qingbai or shufu glaze were exported to Southeast Asia countries such as Philippines and Indonesia. The design is generally simple, consisting of floral motif decorated with grayish local cobalt blue. But there were small quantity of high quality guans, plates and vases with motifs arranged in separate bands as typified by the David vase.
Dr Iwan Comment
I never seen this type in Indonesia
It is generally believed that those high end type of blue and white with vibrant blue used imported cobalt.
Those with greyish tone are decorated with local cobalt. However, recent scientific tests have shown that all the Yuan blue and white used imported cobalt.
The imported cobalt is called sumali [苏麻离青] or suboni [苏渤泥青] blue. Some suggested sources of the imported cobalt are Kashan in Iran or Samarra in Iraq.
Dr Iwan Comment
I have found this type at tanjungpura stie west bponeo and Tuban
Look my collections
Please compare flower decoration left Anamese vs right Yuan -style
Best perfect decoration
Bold dark blue bead jarlet
Best style flower decoration
The earliest known example of Yuan underglaze copper red is probably the dish found in the Sinan shipwreck (A.D. 1325). It has two leaf incised, washed with a lighter copper red and calligraphy written in a thicker copper red pigment. The dish was then covered with a Qingbai glaze and fired. Most of the known examples of the copper red were decorated with motif executed in pencilled style. Majority has the Qingbai type glaze. The red is usually light and grayish to tone, indicating that control over the material is still not perfected.
Copper red is volatile and unstable during firing. If too thinly applied, it may volatilise and lose its red colour. If too thickly applied, it becomes unsightly darkish in tone. There are a number of extant copper red vessels with impressed or incised motif. The copper red was either washed over the motif or the motif reserved with red background. They may be examples of early experimentation with copper red.
|Yuan copper red ewer with floral motif recovered from the sea in Indonesia|
Yuan copper red ewer with fish recovered from Indonesia Trowulan
There were also some vessels decorated with underglaze blue and copper red. A good example is the below guan in the David Percival Foundaton. It has added decorative elements of trailed slip beaded lines and moulded decorative element luted and looks like open work in relief. This style of decoration was popular during the Yuan period and found on many Qingbai guan jar and yu hu chun vases. The Qingbai glaze on such vessels appear more opaque and could sometime be confused with shufu glaze.
Dr Iwan Comment
I found this type in broken and not complete part
Look my collections
The beast and the beauty,s red flower body decorations
Best dark red body decoration
Dark brown red bold body decoration (anamese?)
Darkred splash body decoration
Simple perfect red decoration
simple decoration with bright red colour
Underglaze Copper Red ware
Monochrome Blue wares
Monochrome blue glaze was successfully produced during the Yuan period. There a a beautiful sapphire colour tone. There were some examples of wine cup, saucer and vessel yi found in Hebei baoding. There were traces of gold decoration on the vessels.
Updated by NK Koh (14 Dec 2009)
Dr Iwan Comment
I have never seen this type in indonesia
Yuan Blue and white
On 12 Jul 2005, a Yuan blue and white jar depicting scene from an episode during the Warring states was sold by Christies for a record sum of US$27.7 million for Chinese work of art.
Yuan jar sold by Christies for record sum of US$27.7 million
This is indeed a dramatic change of fortune for Yuan Blue and white wares considering that little was known about them prior to A.D 1950. Before A.D 1950 RL Hobson had in A.D 1929 highlighted a pair of Yuan vases in the Percival David Foundation in his writings. But it did not raise much interest. The pioneering work in the identification of Yuan blue and white was done in A.D 1952 by Dr John Pope. He identified a group of Yuan blue and white in the Istanbul Topkapi Museum and the Iran Ardebil Shrine which possesses motifs which are stylistically similar to those on the pair of David Vases. The pair of vases was a donation to the temple by a devotee named Zhang Wenjin （张文进）seeking blessings for his family. This is mentioned in the inscription on the neck of the vases. It also has a date Zhi Zheng （至正）11th year, ie A.D 1351. Blue and white wares which are stylistically similar to the David vases are termed Zhi Zheng type.
The pair of vases was last placed in the Bejing Zhihua (智化）Temple but smuggled out of China in 1929 to Europe by a overseas chinese. It subsequently ended up in the possession of Sir Percival David.
Subsequently, a pair of qingbai glaze pagoda-shaped vases with simple floral scrolls dated to Yuanyou (元祐） 6th year (A.D. 1319) was excavated in Hubei. It was initially thought to be decorated with a grayish cobalt blue. As the execution of the motif looks experimental and lacks the sophistication and maturity of the Zhi Zheng type blue and white, the Chinese experts viewed them as early Yuan Blue and white and termed them Yuanyou type. However, scientific test in Mar 2009 by the Shanghai Museum on one of the vases confirmed that the colorant used is iron oxide and not cobalt.
|The Yuan You vase datd 1319 A.D in Hubei Museum. Initially thought to be decorated with cobalt. Decorated with iron oxide pigment.|
|David vase dated 1359 A.D|
Kiln and Production Commencement Date
Although the colorant of the pagoda shaped vase dated A.D 1310 is not cobalt, the motifs (such as the peony, the plantain leaves and collar-shaped cloud on the shoulder of the vase) and multi-layered composition showed stylistic similarity with the subsequent blue and white. So, when did the Jingdezhen potters started using cobalt for decoration?
Some of the early Chinese writings related to ceramics may shed some lights. In Jiangqi’s (蒋祈）writings Taoji (陶记） widely regarded as written between A.D 1322 – 1325, there was no mention of blue and white. However，Wang Da Yuan (汪大渊）, in his work Dao Yi Zhi lue (岛夷志略）which recorded his observations during his trips to Southeast Asia between A.D 1330 to 1339, he mentioned a group of exported porcelain termed Qingbai hua ci (青白花瓷). This could be literally interpreted as motif in blue and white. It is more likely a reference to Blue and white and not qingbai wares.
So far, no Yuan blue and white from shipwreck or excavation has a dating earlier than A.D 1330. In the Sinan shipwreck dated about A.D 1325, there were some shufu, iron-oxide decorated wares and a plate decorated with copper red calligraphy from Jingdezhen. But no blue and white was found.
Kiln sites producing Yuan blue and white have been found in several sites in Jingdezhen and Hutian. In Hutian, kiln sites located south of the river Nan were found to specialise in the production of large vessels, such as large plates, jars and vases, with mulit-layered motifs which were mainly found in Middle East collections. Kiln sites located north of the river were found to produce those small vessels such as jarlet, bowls and dishes with simple motif, which were commonly found in Philippines and Indonesia. The stratification of the kiln site, located South of the river Nan, showed the blue and white layer above the layer of shufu glaze vessels. Although the actual date of production of the blue and white could not be ascertained, they definitely made their appearance later than the shufu glaze vessels.
In Jingdezhen, the site at Luoma Qiao (落马桥) were found to produce a large variety of vessels form such as including plates, cups, vases, jars and figurines. There were also vessels such as jar, Yuhuchun vase decorated with underglaze copper red motifs. A fragment of small bowl with overglaze red/green motif was also recovered.
Fragments recovered from Jingdezhen Luoma Qiao
The site at Longzhu Ge (龙珠阁) specialised in producing vessels for the palace. Dragons decorated on the jars were found to have 5 claws which was only permitted for imperial use. Some of the vessels were glazed in blue or turquoise and decorated with gold motif. In Yuan Dianzhang (元典章), it was decreed that the use of gold gild was prohibited by common folks.
Jar with 5 claws dragon from Longzhu Ge kiln site
From published sources, so far the earliest blue and white was a sherd with cobalt blue inscription and a date yuantong (元统）3rd year (A.D 1335) mentioned. It was excavated in Jingdezhen Daijia nong (景德镇戴家弄）. There were quite a number of sherds with inscription indicating cyclical or Zhizheng date excavated in Jingdezhen. All are dated to the A.D 1340s.
The Xuzhan Tang Museum (徐展堂艺术馆）has a big Yuan blue and white zhizheng type charger with vegetal and floral motif organised around several circular bands. There is a faint ink inscription which when under ultra-violet light, the characters zhizheng 4th year (至正四年）ie A.D 1343 could be seen.
Hence, so far far evidence indicates that production of Yuan blue and white most probably started around A.D 1330.
Types of blue and white
The typical high quality Yuan blue and whites are in the form of large plates, guan jars, Rectangular flat vases, meiping/yuhuchun/gourd-shape vases and big bowls. The best collections are now in Topkapu Saray in Istanbul Turkey and Ardebil in Iran Bustan in Tehran. The motif and composition on the pieces was similar to that of the David Vase. It is termed Zhizheng type. The quality is consistently very high and typically with different motifs organised within separate band. For example, the David vase has 8 bands of motifs. The glaze on the vessel is also more transparent with a tinge of blue. It is very different from the Qingbai or shufu glaze found on those small blue and white vessels for the Southeast Asia market.
The varieties of motif are numerous ranging from many different type of flowers and floral scrolls, dragon, phoenix, crane, heron, mandarin duck, fish, mystical animals, Buddhist precious objects, clouds, waves, human and landscape depicting scene from ancient episode from the 3 kingdom and Han Dynasty. The use of bands to organise motifs is not new and can been seen in earlier period such as those on Song Cizhou wares. What is interesting and striking is the way the potter squeezed so many varied motifs into one composition on the vessel. Visually it looks crowded as if the designer is adverse to leaving empty spaces. However, they are well-organised and do not appear messy. Another interesting approach is having some of the motifs reserved in a blue background. One distinctive and refreshing element also worth noting is having motifs within cloud collars. The early Yuan You 6th year vase mentioned earlier also has cloud collars on the shoulder. But no motif was drawn within and it is obvious that despite the use of band to separate different motif, the whole composition is sparse and not crowded as in the Zhizheng type.
Big Plates in Beijing palace Museum
Ewer in Beijing palace Museum
Big Jar in Beijing palace Museum
|Human motif vase in the Hubei Museum|
Fragment of big bowl from Trowulan in Indonesia
Besides the above high quality types, many small ewers, small jarlets, cups and bowls with a Qingbai or shufu glaze were excavated in Southeast Asia countries such as Philippines and Indonesia . The design was generally simple, consisting of floral /cloud motif decorated with greyish cobalt blue executed in calligraphic style.
Such items were produced in Hutian kiln located South of River Nan
In Jingdezhen, a number of stem cups with simple human figures/floral motif were excavated.
|Yuan blue and white stem cups|
The blue and white exported to Middle East were generally of high quality. However, it is a mis-conception that those exported to Southeast Asian countries are low quality blue and whites. Excavations in Trowulan (in Java), the former capital of the Majapahit empire in Indonesia showed that quite a number (including vases and big jars) were of high quality.
Yuhuchun vases found in Trowulan
Type of Cobalt Used
Visually, it appears that two types of cobalt are used for Yuan blue and white. The typical high quality type has a strong and vibrant shade of blue. The blue on the small pieces appears greyish in tone. Generally, it is believed that the former was decorated with imported cobalt and the latter local cobalt. The below photos gives an idea of how local and imported cobalt is thought to appear visually.
Scientific analysis shows that the local cobalt is high on magnesium and low of iron oxide. The imported cobalt is the reverse, ie. high on iron oxide and low on magnesium. The high magnesium is believed to render the grayish tone to motif drawn using local cobalt.
However, recent scientific tests have consistently revealed that the cobalt used on those Yuan blue and white which appear greyish in colour tone is also imported cobalt. It seems that other factors such as the firing temperature, the atmosphere and quality of the cobalt may have contributed to the greyish tone.
The chinese called the imported cobalt sumali [苏麻离青] or suboni [苏渤泥青] blue. Some suggested sources of the imported cobalt are Kashan in Iran or Samarra in Iraq.
Underglaze blue and copper red
There were also some vessels decorated with underglaze blue and copper red. A good example is the below guan in the David Percival Foundaton. It has added decorative elements of trailed slip beaded lines and moulded decorative element luted and looks like open work in relief. This style of decoration was popular during the Yuan period and found on many Qingbai guan jar and yu hu chun vases.
Written by : NK Koh (15 Dec 2009), updated 18 Feb 2012
Lecture: Opening the Microscopic World of Porcelain: Trace Model Research and Authentication of Yuan Underglaze Blue
Based upon the first two books in the Ceramics Trace Model Study Series, Survey of Ceramics Trace Model Study and Trace Model Research and Authentication: Yuan Dynasty Underglaze Blue Porcelain, this lecture looks into the application of microscopic research within Chinese Ceramics.
Using 500x digital magnification, the research team at Guangzhou Oriental Museum has put forth a new scientific field of research that focuses on the quantitative change and passage of time principles that govern the weathering of ancient ceramics. With sample selection extending from Jingdezhen to Inner Mongolia within China, and from Iran to the U.S. internationally, they have pulled together a sizeable database of ceramic trace samples that are used as the comparative DNA in scientific research and authentication of Chinese Porcelain.
The speaker, Matthew Bunney, Deputy Director of the Guangzhou Oriental Museum, has led a four year focus on the discovery and analyses of Yuan Dynasty Underglaze Blue Porcelain traces. He also pioneered a new technique of three-dimensional micro-imaging which opened a new world of ceramic observation and understanding, and is working to improve the field of ceramic authentication. Come and enjoy an evening of discovery and education on this interesting new field of scientific research, and be part of the first public audience in Asia to see the Microscopic World of Chinese Ceramics opened for all to enjoy.
Dr Iwan Comment
I found this type at west borneo,tuban,and shi[wreck Malacca straight
;ook my collections
”The Rare Yuan Snake Ceramic”
Very rare Yuan Snake
Rare Yuan Snake
emblem of medicine
Emblem of Evil
Yuan Snake ceramic
”The Rare Yuan Cock Ceramic”
Yuan Cock Mhammedan blue
Rare Yuan cock cup
Rare Yuan Cock ceramic
Hallo collectors,thankyou for click UCN today
RCD and UCN special show this day.
RARE YUAN QING PAI CERAMIC
Dr Iwan Comment
I found this type from shipwreck Malacca straights
Without even bothering with whether the rpice is fair or too good to be true or the qualities of glaze and footring, the design of this is incorrect of rthe period.
The central flower is lost in the roundel and the edge with the two peach (?) forms at 12 and 6 o’clock on the circle are not cohesive with each other or the rather spotty design of incised markings which look more like and attempt to populate with Ming clouds than the aesthetic of longquan celadon.
THe barb of the foliate edging is flat and flabby. Here is a fragmentary example of what this aspires to.
Anthony M. Lee
Asian Art Research
It has all the features of a late Yuan celadon small dish. The ring of oxidized (Burnt Red) iron, from impurities within the paste,the effect caused through a reduction atmosphere, is a known mark of authentication, as well as the overall shape and design. I would declare it a genuine example, and a good one.
Thanks for sharing Frank.
A Longquan celadon censer, any opinion regarding the date would be highly appreciated.
The Ceramic Tenmoko
DR Iwan Suwnady,MHA
Limited E-Book In CD-ROM Edition
Special For Ceramic Collectors
Copyright @ 2014
Pada tahun 1995-2014 di Jkrfta saya menemukan beberapa keramik dinasti Sung dengan glasir khusus yang terkenal dalam upacara minum the d Jepang, untuk menambah pengetahuan tentang keramik tenmoko yang sangat terkenal didunia ini saya telah menerbitkan sebuah CD-ROM,contoh ada di Web Blog saya hhtp://www.DRiwancybermuseum.wordpress.com
Bagi yang berminat dapat menghubungi saya dengan syarat mengupload kopi kTPnya dan alamat lengkap,harga CD-Rom lima ratus ribu rupiah sudah termasuk ongkos kirim liwat Titipan Kilat.
Terima kasih telah mampir di web blog saya.
Belajar banyak agar koleksi anda dapat terkumpul yang langka,orisinil,dan tidak ketipu dengan koleksi palsu atau tiruan dari eropah dan yang baru
Jakarta November 2014
DR Iwa Suwandy,MHA
Jian Temmoku bowls (Jian Zhan)
Jian temmoku bowls were prized by tea connoisseurs during the Song Dynasty. However, with changes to the tea drinking habits, it lost favour subsequently and awareness and knowledge of its eminent stature was erased from the Chinese memory with the passage of time. During the late Qing/Republican period, there was a revival of interest in these black glaze bowls as one category of antique Chinese ceramics for overseas collectors Many of the antique ceramics, with some as early as the Neolithic period, were from ancient tombs/graves and kiln sites. Many of the black glaze bowls that surfaced in the Shanghai and Beijing antique markets were defective bowls from kiln sites. According to the Jianou chronicles (建欧县志) dated 18th year of Republican era ie 1929 A.D,antique dealers paid the villagers to illegally dig up Jian kiln black bowls and transport them to Shanghai or Japan.
James Marshall Plumer, an American who served as a custom officer in Fuzhou in Fujian, got wind that the bowls originated from Shuji (水吉) in Jianyang （建阳）in Minbei (Northern Fujian). He made a trip there in 1935 and collected numerous sherds and kiln furnitures such as clay separator and saggars. He became a Chinese ceramics scholar and was noted for his study on Jian temmoku bowls.
Origin of the term Jian Zhan and Temmoku
The term Jian Zhan (建盏) first appeared in Japanese written sources during the early 14th century. Zhan （盏）is a chinese word which means a small bowl during ancient time. Many writings related to Jian zhan mistook it to mean bowls from Jianyang as Shuiji where the kilns were located is now part of Jianyang county. But that only happened during the 20th century. Prior to that, Shuiji came under the jurisdiction of Jianou (建欧) county. In 207 A.D of the Eastern Han period, Jianou, known as Jianan (建安), was set up as a county. It was elevated to prefecture status subsequently and renamed as Jianzhou (建州) in 621 A.D of the Tang era. Cai Xiang (蔡襄) in his “Record of Tea”, Cha lu (茶录), wrote : “.. The tea bowls made at Jianan have purplish black glaze with hare’s fur pattern. The body is slightly thicker and so retains the heat well.” Hence, the term Jian Zhan is more likely refer to zhan from Jianan or Jianzhou. However, in line with the Song convention of naming famous ceramics after the prefecture that they were made, such as Ding or Yue wares, it is most appropriate to understand it as meaning Jianzhou zhan.
Nowadays, it is common to refer to Jian Zhan as Temmoku (Tenmoku) bowls. According to the Qing chronicle “Da Qing Yi Tong Zhi” (大清一统志)”, Tianmu mountain (Tenmoku in Japanese), located in present day Zhejiang Linan city (临安市), had many zen sect temples during the Song/Yuan period. Many Japanese monks went there to study and practice Zen Buddhism. When returning to Japan, they brought back with them black glaze tea bowls which included those from Jianzhou and other kilns, which they termed Tenmoku bowls (天目碗)，ie bowls from Tianmu mountian. Tea drinking is an effective means to stay awake during meditation.
In the Japanese work (禅林小歌) dated 1394 – 1427 A.D, there appeared to be distinction between various types of Jian zhan and other types of tea bowls such as Fuzhou zhan (福州盏) and tenmoku. However, subsequently the term tenmoku was used loosely to refer to all types of black/brown tea bowls.
Tianmu mountain in Linan city located west of Hangzhou
Tea competition and Jian Zhan
Tea from Fujian Fuzhou and Jianzhou were mentioned in Tang Lu Yu’s treatise on tea (陆羽茶经). By the Northern Song Dynasty, Jianzhou tea, ie Jian cha (建茶) achieved so much fame for its quality that in 977 A.D, Bei Yuan Yu Cha Yuan (北苑御茶园), an officially managed imperial tea plantation was established in Jianzhou (present day Jianou city). The tea leaves gone through the process of powdering, steaming and baking. After which, they were packed in cake form before sending to the palace.
Cai Xiang (1012 – 1048 A.D) ), a native of Xianyou (仙游) in Fujian, was once in charge and supervised the official Beiyuan tea plantation. During the stint in Jianzhou, he gained deep knowledge of a leisure activity called tea competition enjoyed by the locals. He became an ardent convert. Using his influence as a high ranking court official, he introduced the art of Fujian tea competition to the imperial court. In his treatise “Record of Tea”, Cai Xiang ranked a type of white Jiancha called Dragon Pheonix tea (Longfeng tea 龙凤茶) and Jian purplish black glaze bowl with hare’s fur pattern as the best for tea competition. Through his active promotion, tea competition became a popular and noble activity of the imperial court and the literati class. This activity gained a further boost during the late Northern Song Emperor Huizong’s reign ( AD 1101-1125). He was a great connoisseur of the tea culture and displayed his in-depth understanding in a twelve-chapter dissertation “Discussion of Tea in the Daguan period ” (Da Guan cha lun 大观茶录 ). He too advocated Jian hare’s fur tea bowls as the best for tea competition. The competition was judged based on certain criteria, such as the taste, fragrance, colour of the tea (white superior to yellowish tone). During the contest, the tea was whisked to white froth The tea should stay well-mix and the first to show traces of residue loss was declared the loser.
Tea competitions became the favourite past time of the rich and poor in many areas in China. Due to popular demand, Jian kilns produced large quantity of tea bowls during the Song period. For those common folks who could not afford Jian Zhan, they could avail themselves of cheaper version of tea bowls produced in other provinces and numerous other Fujian kilns.
Origin, dating and characteristics of Jian Zhan
Shuiji, a market town in present day Jianyang,was the location where the ancient Jian kilns were found. Since 1960, 4 official archaeological excavations, ie in 1960, 1977, 1990 and 1991, were carried out in Shuiji. Kilns were discovered in small villages in:
- Luhuaping （芦花坪) – celadon and black glaze sherds
- Niupilun （牛皮仑）– celadon and black glaze sherds
- Daluhoumen (大路后门) – black glaze, small quantity celadon and blue and white sherds
- Yuangtoukeng（源头坑) – black glaze sherds
- Anweishan (庵尾山) – celadon and black glaze sherds
- Shuiweilan (水尾岚) – black glaze sherds
- Yingzhanggan (营长乾) – black glaze and qingbai sherds
- Qililan (七里岚) .– black glaze sherds
Based on archaelogical evidence, small scale celadon wares were produced during late Tang/5 Dynasty period in kilns located at sites such as Luhuaping （芦花坪), Niupilun （牛皮仑） and Anweishan (庵尾山). The wares consisting of bowls, plates, jars, ewers, cover boxes and etc. The vessels which are generally rough and stylistically similar to the celebrated yue wares. The glaze is generally uneven and the lower portion of the external wall of the vessel is unglaze. The vessels were fired with protection of saggars.
By late 5 Dynasty/Early Northern Song, the Jian potters started to produce two types of shallow bowls with slightly in-curving rim. The lower external wall and foot is unglaze. The glaze is thin and black/dark brown in colour. The bowl is quite thinly potted with a slight protrusion on the inner base. Below the rim, the wall is of relatively even thickness. The paste is greyish or greyish brown. Such bowls were recovered from the kiln in Anweishan (庵尾山). The bowl was fired upright in a saggar.
Precursor of the typical Jian wares
Tao Gu (陶穀) (903 – 970 A.D) in his work Qingyilu (清异录) wrote that among the tea bowls made in Min (Fujian), there are those decorated with partridge-feather mottles. His work has often been quoted to back the dating of Jian tea bowls to 5 Dynasty/early Northern Song period. It gives the impression that by late 5 Dynasty/early Northern Song, Jian potters were already producing the celebrated Jian zhan. However, based on archaeological evidence, the bowls of late 5 Dynasty/Early Song period are generally rough as compared with the mature products of mid Northern Song onward. Extant tea bowls with partridge-feather mottles are found in bowls which were stylistically produced at least from mid Northern Song period onward. In fact, the authenticity of Qingyilu is now being questioned by some Chinese scholars. Some suggested that it was a fictitious work of late Northern Song period.
Based on the archaeological findings, the typical Jian tea bowls were produced from the Mid Northern Song (perhaps from 2nd quarter of 11th century) to late Southern Song period. Jian kilns also produced small quantity of black glaze cups, bowl-shaped lamps and bo-shaoed bowls. There are at least 8 different types of tea bowls in 3 sizes that were produced during the duration.
From the bowls recovered from the kilns, it is clear that type 1, 3, 4, 5, 6, 8 and 8 were found in large quantity. Type 1 with a conical form and an indent near the rim is the most classical form which is usually associated with the celebrated Jian Zhan. Based on Jian bowls recovered from graves, this form became the dominant form from the late Northern Song period onward. In fact this served as a prototype which was widely copied by potters from other kilns. Compared with those from other kilns, the typical Jian bowl has a thicker and lustrous glaze. The paste is usually purplish black and more dense. (It should be noted some especially the small size bowls have greyish or redish brown paste. This is because they were placed in locations which received uneven or lower heat while firing in the kiln). The unglaze lower portion is carefully finished. It appears smooth and usually do not show shaving marks when trimming the external wall. The wall of the bowl thickens as it descends towards the foot. The base is thick and the square cut foot is neat and the outer base sits within a shallow inner footring.
|Some examples of Jian tea bowls|
For tea bowls sent as tribute to the palace, there are at least a portion which is marked with Gongyu (供御) ie tribute or Jinzhan (进盏) meaning to present bowl. The characters are either incised or impressed. They were found in the kilns dated mid Northern Song to Southern Song.
Besides Gongyu and Jinzhan mark, there are also others incised with chinese characters of surname/name of the potter/or kiln owner or Chinese character/chinese numeral which could indicate location which item was to be place in the kiln.
Bowls with glaze decorated with hare’s fur marking or partridge feather mottles were highly prized by the Song tea culture connoisseurs. Many Song literati made reference to them in their poems and commentary. Hare’s fur markings are silvery or rustic streaks which are found on the interior and exterior wall of the lustrous black glaze bowl. According to Nigel Wood in his book “Chinese Glazes”, once the glaze melted, a layer of thin iron-rich droplets coalesced to form a thin layer within the glaze. Some of the iron-rich droplets were brought ot the surface by bubbles and run down the sides of the bowl under the influence of gravity. The iron oxide in these streaks crystalised out into silvery tone if under reduction or rustic tone if under oxidisation atmosphere.
|Hare’s fur bowl with rustic streaks|
|Hare’s fur sherd with silvery streaks|
As regard Partridge feather’ glaze, in the past there were debate on whether the markings actually refers to fine markings on the back of the partridge or large light-coloured spots on its breast. Most argued that it cannot be the fine markings on the back as some other types of bird also have similar marking. On the other hand, large light-coloured spots is unique to a type of partridge in Fujian. This is now the more widely accepted meaning for partridge feather mottles. In 1988 a shard with 66 carefully placed white glaze spots was excavated from the Shuiweilan (水尾岚) kiln. The base has a incised gong yu mark suggesting that it was originally intended for tribute. This is now acknowledged as partridge feather glaze. It make sense of a Northern Song poet’s description of a Jian bowl having markings that appear ‘like melting snow on dark water.
|A Fujian partridge with white spots on the breast||Jian sherd with white spots and gongyu mark|
In the Japanese collections, there are some Jian Zhan with silvery or rustic oil-spots (termed Yuteki in Japanese). In DaDe Temple, Kyoto in Japan there is a Jian Zhan with oil-spots. The silvery oil-spots are large, the result of several oil-spots congealed into bigger spots during firing. Indeed, they resemble the partridge spots. Those with smaller oil-spots are also classified as partridge feather type although strictly speaking the similarity is less convincing.
Oil spots Tenmoku in Japanese collection. The spots are smaller as compared with that from Dade temple
Oil spots tenmoku bowls are scarce. According to Nigel Wood : “It happened occasionally that kiln temperatures began to fall while the glazes were still boiling, thereby fixing the iron-rich spots before they could run down into streaks. … The effect was copied in north China during the the Song and Jin period, using a more reliable technique that involved the application of an iron-rich (and perhaps magnetite-based) slip beneath an ordinary black temmoku glaze. The success of this approach has meant that northern oil spot temmokus are less uncommon than the jian originals.” His comments is important and rectify the erroneous explanations in some past published text that Jian hare’s fur and oil spots glaze involves the application of an iron-rich slip.
There are 4 extremely rare tenmoku bowls with yohen glaze in the Japanese collections. The term Yohen means dazzling and brilliant kiln transmutation. The clusters of brown-colored spots of various sizes are either surrounded by light blue or deep blue or golden iridescent film.
In the past, no known example of Yohen was found outside Japan. Few years ago, a broken piece was found in Hangzhou in a location near the imperial palace.
Yohen temmoku found in Hangzhou
By the late Southern Song period, Jian potters also manufactured qingbai wares with carved or impressed motif. One of the kiln at Yingzhanggan (营长乾) has a layer of qingbai sherds above Jian zhan sherds layer. This indicated that Jian kiln was facing stiff competition from Jingdezhen which produced Qingbai wares. The decline popularity of Jian Zhan could also be linked to the decline in popularity of tea competition. To ensure their survival, some kilns were forced to branch out and produce the increasingly more popular Qingbai wares. Latest by early Yuan period, Jian kilns ceased production.
Temmoku bowls from other Fujian kilns
To meet the hugh domestic and overseas demand for temmoku bowls, they were also produced in large quantity in other kilns in Fujian, mainly in Jianyan (建阳), Wuyishan (武夷山), Songxi (松溪), Guangze (光泽), Jianou (建瓯）, Pucheng (蒲城), Nanping (南平) , Changting (长汀), Fuqing (福请), Minhou (闽侯) and Ningde (宁德). Most of the sites produced a mix of celadon, qingbai and black wares. For temmoku bowls, the dominant form produced were similar or variants of the Jian conical bowl with the indent near the rim.
Among the sites, those at Wuyishan Yulinting (武夷山遇林亭), Nanping Chayang (南平茶洋) and Fuzhou Dongzhang (福州东张) were large in scale and were found in overseas especially Japan.
Wuyishan Yulinting (武夷山遇林亭) produced an interesting form with decoration in gold. In most instances, the decorations have faded and only traces could be seen. The motif includes dragon phoenix, crane, pine, bamboo, prunus, flowers and orchid. There were also those with auspicious wordings or landscape. In some past ceramics publications, such bowls have been erroneously attributed to Jian kiln. Bowls from this kiln have mainly greyish to greyish white paste.
A bowl with traces of gold decoration of auspicious phrase “寿山福海” connoting longevity
The medium size temmoku bowls from Nanping Chayang (南平茶洋) is distinguishable by a thin horizontal ridge where the foot meet the wall. This feature appears to be unique to this kiln. The shaving marks are usually clearly seen on the unglaze lower external wall.
|A medium size (12 cm dia. ) bowl from Nanping Chayang kiln|
In the 1980s, local residents recovered a large number of small Temmoku tea bowls from a wreck at Bai Jiao (白礁) in Fujian Lianjiang Dinghai (连江定海). The Fujian ceramic experts observed that many of the bowls were similar to those produced at Fuqing Dongzhang (福请东张) and Minhou Nanyu (闽侯南屿) and dated them to Southern Song period. Dong Zhang kiln complex was large and comparable in size to that at the Jian complex. They produced large quantities of temmoku and celadon bowls. In the Japanese work (禅林小歌) dated 1394 – 1427 A.D, a type of tea bowl called Fuzhou zhan (福州盏) was mentioned. During the Song/Yuan period, Fuqing and Minhou came under the jurisdiction of Fuzhou. Hence, Fuzhou zhan most probably included tea bowls produced in those two counties. In ancient sites in Japan Fukuoka and Kamakura, there were numerous similar type of tea bowls recovered and were dated to mid 12th to first half of 13th century. Many Dongzhang bowls were also recovered from ancients sites in the coastal Fujian region.
After studying the large number of small tea bowls from the Lianjiang wreck in my collection, it is hard to confirm with certainty the actual kiln of production. Those from Dongzhang, Minhou Nanyu (闽侯南屿) and Ningde Feiluan (宁德飞鸾) appear similar. They share the characteristics of having a casual finishing with poorly formed foot and shaving marks. The profile of the conical bowl with the indent at the rim could vary to a large degree. The lower wall could descent more gradually or steeply to the foot. The glaze is more thinly applied and large number show a thinner layer of glaze especially at the lower wall near the foot. Some of the bowls also have bluish white or rustic hare’s fur markings but are not well-defined and clear compared to those from the Jian Kiln. The colour of the glaze ranges from black, black with rustic patches, brown, tea-dust or rustic .
Examples from Lianjiang wreck showing the different profile of the conical bowls
Examples from Lianjiang wreck. Below one shows traces of hare’s fur markings
Some examples of temmoku bowls from the Min Hou, Fuqing and Ningfei kilns are shown below.
Written by : NK Koh (15 Jul 2012)
- 建窑瓷 – 叶文程/林忠干
- Hare’s Fur, Tortosieshell and Partridge Feathers – Robert D. Mowry
- Chinese glazes – Nigel Wood
Pottery – Tenmoku
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Here is a Red Temmoku bowl, fired to cone 10r. The bowl is about
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A fine and rare Konoha Temmoku tea bowl. Southern Song Dynasty, 12th/ 13th century. Photo Sotheby’s
of ‘Jizhou’ manufacture, of conical shape with a small raised knob in the centre, covered with a fine opaque dark brown glaze that leaves the lip in a slightly lighter tone, and decorated on the inside with a large trefoil tree leaf with worm-eaten holes, forming an attractive yellowish-brown silhouette with fine veining, ivory-tinted edges and a honey-coloured stem, the low narrow footring and recessed base exposed in the pale biscuit; in Japanese ivory silk pouch (shifuku) with matching silk cushion and four corner posts, in ribbon-tied paulownia-wood box and cover, ribbon-tied black-lacquered outer box and cover, and brown cottonfuroshiki with inscribed wooden tag; 15.2cm., 6in. Estimate 60,000—80,000 GBP. Lot Sold 337,250 GBP
PROVENANCE: Collection of Alfred Clark (no. 609) (1930s).
Mayuyama & Co. Ltd, Tokyo.
EXHIBITED: International Exhibition of Chinese Art, Royal Academy of Arts, London, 1935-6, cat. no. 1150.
Arts de la Chine Ancienne, Musée de l’Orangerie, Paris, 1937, cat. no. 681.
Sung Dynasty Wares. Chun and Brown Glazes, Oriental Ceramic Society, London, 1952, cat. no. 178.
Bi no bi/Exhibition of Select Works of Ancient Chinese Art, Mitsukoshi, Nihonbashi, Tokyo, 1973, cat. no. 64.
Meiwan gojū sen. [Fifty famous tea bowls], Okayama Art Museum, Okayama, 1977, cat. no. 5.
Temmoku, Tokugawa Art Museum and Nezu Art Museum, Tokyo, 1979, cat. no. 83.
Chūgoku no tōji/Special Exhibition of Chinese Ceramics, Tokyo National Museum, Tokyo, 1994, cat. no. 212.
LITERATURE AND REFERENCES: Kōyama Fujiō, Tōji taikei [Outlines of ceramics], vol. 38: Temmoku, Tokyo, 1974, pls 40 and 41, and fig. 48.
Ryūsen Shūhō/Mayuyama, Seventy Years, Tokyo, 1976, vol. I, pl. 677.
NOTE: The ‘Jizhou’ kilns at Yonghezhen, Ji’an county in Jiangxi province, a region formerly called Jizhou, were not blessed with the finest raw materials for making stonewares, but came up with the most original ideas for decorating. They were unique in exploiting the chemical composition of real tree leaves for making tea bowls with most naturalistic – because natural – silhouette leaf designs. In Japan, these bowls have become known by the same term ‘temmoku‘ that designates black-glazed tea bowls of ‘Jian’ ware, but with the specification ‘konoha‘, ‘tree leaf’. The present bowl is among the finest of its type, of large, well-potted form, with a smooth brownish-black glaze and a leaf of interesting outline of a kind otherwise rarely used on such bowls
DR Iwan Tenmoko Collections
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