The three centuries spanned by the Song (Sung) dynasty, 960-1278, saw a brilliant flowering of the art of the potter in China. Two major factors behind this development were aesthetic appreciation of fine design and workmanship shown by the Song court and the rise of China as a maritime power in the eleventh century, providing the opportunity for the expansion of foreign trade.
Thanks to the widespread demand for high-quality wares, output was greatly increased in this period. Today surviving specimens are still greatly appreciated by collectors and connoisseurs for their outstanding elegance and sophistication, as well as being a source of inspirations for leading studio-potters. In this important study the author describes in detail the historical background and development of Song-dynasty ceramic styles, executed largely in stoneware. There are illustrations of numerous outstanding pieces from collections throughout the world. Characteristic examples have been chosen to represent the wide variety of forms and styles of decoration, wheter painted, incised or impressed, produced at leading kiln sites in both north and South China, as well as Korean celadon and other wares inspired by Chinese originals. Although many kilns had existed for a century or more before the beginning of the Song dynasty, specialization was a new phenomenon and wares began to be specifically named for the first time, e.g. Ding ware, Yaozhou ware, Ru ware - names which have remained in use ever since. Characteristc shapes identified with certain kilns are shown in the line drawings, and all the forms potted - from meiping vases to cup-stands and incense burners - are discussed in the context of the individual wares. Glazes, generally thick and sometimes featuring internal bubbles or enhanced by crackle, are at this period still generally restrained in color but often enliven the otherwise sombre character of the major wares, and the distinctive characteristics of the various styles are clearly seen in the individual illustrations. With this detailed maps of kiln sites, glossary of technical terms, bibliography, chronological table and detailed notes on the illustrations, this book is an essential guide to all aspects of the enormous ceramic output of those anonymous Song potters whose work is still held in such high reward seven centuries later.
Published by Rizolli International Publications, Inc., New York, 1982
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