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Artwork Details

porcelain with glaze
2 1/2 in x 7 7/8 in x 7 7/8 in (6.4 cm x 20 cm x 20 cm)
Gift of Mrs. Caroline I. Plumer for the James Marshall Plumer Collection

On Display

Not currently on display


Subject Matter:

This is a Qingbai (青白, literally “bluish white”) teabowl of the Song dynasty (960-1279). The unglazed rim would have been finished with a copper or silver metal band.

From the eighth century on, tea drinking was firmly established as an important Chinese social custom. The tea was taken in the form of a powder that was whisked into a frothy brew with hot water in elegant conical ceramic bowls. Initially, white wares from Yue, Xing, and Ding kilns were favored, but later black tea bowls from Jian became the color of choice.

Qingbai wares, which consisted primarily of tea bowls, were produced in southern China during the Song dynasty (960-1279)  at Jingdezhen, Jiangxi in imitation of northern Ding porcelains. A reduction atmosphere in the Jingdezhen kilns and a high kaolin and low iron content  in the clay result in the pale blue cast to Qingbai wares.

Song society, lead by cultured emperors like Huizong (r. 1101-26) and Gaozong (r.1127-63), did not seek power and empire like the previous Tang dynasty, but instead sought learning and contemplation surrounded by refined and elegant daily objects. The pottery industry responded by producing immaculate white wares that could replace silver as luxury tableware. By the eleventh century, Ding had become firmly established as the great white ware of the north, just as the great white ware of the south, qingbai ware was started being produced at the kilns of Jingdezhen in Jiangxi province. Chinese connoisseurs of the time praised the color and feel of qingbai tea bowls as being like “icy jade” and the ware went on to make Jingdezhen the porcelain capital of the world from the tenth to fourteenth centuries.

Physical Description:

This thin porcelain conical bowl with direct rim on a footring has an interior with incised and combed floral or cloud-like meander decoration. It is covered in a white glaze with bluish tinge, and it has an unglazed rim.

Usage Rights:

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