This small bowl with bright purple splashes is a typical example of Jun ware. Named for Jun Prefecture in Henan Province, recent archaeological discoveries have shown that Jun wares were produced in the area around Linru in the same province. Of the eight kilns near Linru identified for the production of Jun ware, Wugongshan kiln is believed to have produced the highest quality wares. Excavations at the Wugongshan kiln have uncovered imperial coins dating to 1119-1125; in addition, the number of shards found at this site indicate that imperfect pieces were discarded. Together these suggest that some Jun pieces from this particular kiln were intended for imperial use, but this remains an issue of debate.
Although Jun is one of the five great wares of China, Western scholars have generally disagreed with their Chinese counterparts, who believe that it was an imperial ware. Both the thick bodies of Jun ware--when compared with Ding and Ru, for example--and the spectacular purple splashes that often decorate it are cited as reasons for Jun being a popular ware. These bursts of color were created by adding filings of copper to the glaze before firing. As is the case with this small bowl, the splashes on early Jun wares were applied sparingly and somewhat randomly. In later examples, the copper filings were brushed into the glaze in more structured patterns. The flamboyance of these splashes is one of the elements that distinguishes some Jun ware from the more understated Ru. On the other hand, like much Ru ware, this bowl has an elegant shape covered by a blue-gray glaze.