With deep rounded sides rising from a short foot, covered overall in a lustrous dark brownish-black glaze and liberally splashed with extensive irregular silvery russet and yellow-brown patterns simulating a mottled tortoiseshell, all stopping well above the knife-pared foot revealing the gray body fired to a slightly pale orange.
Jizhou 吉州 kilns were established at Yonghe Township, Ji’an County, in Jiangxi and Fujian province, and they started firing ceramics in the late Tang dynasty, and developed in the Song dynasty. The Chinese records mention that in the reign of Jingde (1004 – 1007 AD) of Song dynasty, the government established an office in charge of the tower’s ceramic production and that several thousand households engaged in its production. One of the most celebrated of all ceramics made for tea use during the Southern Song period from the Jizhou kilns are Jizhou black-glazed bowls, like the present bowl. During the Song dynasty, the highly sophisticated aesthetics of Jizhou wares developed around the ritual of tea drinking. The Jizhou kiln was famous for the brown and black glaze on jars and bowls commonly for container tea drinking. Some of the bowls, like the present bowl, may have been likely used to sip tea that were widely used by a variety of social classes, from emperors to common people and monks. Jizhou wares were produced at a small number of kilns, and the wares were prized by Japanese connoisseurs. The aesthetic Jizhou surrounding the tradition of enjoying a drinking tea ceremony developed into Japan society.
Jizhou bowls of Southern Song dynasty are commonly decorated with splashes of variously colors on surfaces of the glaze, forming either in reminiscence of tortoiseshell, tiger’s fur, partridge feathers or russet marking and paper cut leaf and animal effects. For example, see a related bowl but of conical form, illustrated in Sekai Toji Zenshu, vol. 12, 1977, nos. 103 – 104; another in the Muwen Tang collection and included in the exhibition Song Ceramics from the Kwan Collection, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1994, cat. no. 170. Also, compare with a Jizhou ‘tortoiseshell’ glaze bowl, sold at Sotheby’s Hong Kong, 2 – 3 June 2016, lot. 648 (see fig. 1). Compare with a closely related a Jizhou ‘splash’ bowl, sold at Sotheby’s New York, 17th March, 2015, lot. 97 (see fig. 2).
Sekai Toji Zenshu, vol. 12, 1977, nos. 103 – 104.
Song Ceramics from the Kwan Collection, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1994, cat. no. 170.