Detail View: The AMICA Library: Vase

AMICA Library Year: 
Object Type: 
Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Creator Nationality: 
Asian; Far East Asian; Chinese
Creator Name-CRT: 
Full view
Creation Date: 
Jin period, 12th century
Creation Start Date: 
Creation End Date: 
Materials and Techniques: 
Stoneware with slip and with painted and incised design in black pigment under lead glaze (Cizhou ware, probably from Xiuwu or Cizhou)
Classification Term: 
Creation Place: 
North China
H. 8 1/8 in. (20.6 cm); D. 3 5/8 in. (9.2 cm)
AMICA Contributor: 
Asia Society
Owner Location: 
New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 
Credit Line: 
Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
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 zun-shaped vase seen here, are thickly potted, boldly decorated ceramics that were produced 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. By the 12th century, potters making Cizhou ware began to paint directly onto the slip covering the body, a technique that both saved time and enabled a more fluid design. The peony design on this vase was painted with a black pigment on a white slip background. The vase was then covered with a transparent green glaze.

The zun shape derives ultimately from bronze wine vessels produced during the Shang and Zhou periods (c. 1700-221 BCE), and the reappearance of this shape in 12th-century ceramics most likely reflects the antiquarianism popular during the Northern Song period (960-1126). Ceramic and bronze vessels in this shape were commonly used as furnishings for family altars, and the revival of this form during the Song period coincides with a resurgence of Confucianism, which emphasized ancestor worship. The appearance of the zun form in Cizhou ware attests to the enormous variety of techniques, shapes, and designs in Song-era ceramics.

Related Document Description: 
The Arts of the Sung Dynasty. London: Oriental Ceramic Society, 1960, p. 55, pl. 40.
Related Document Description: 
Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 66.
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