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Black Wares: Under Appreciated
This posting is for Craig. Here is a selection of my black wares bought 25 to 30 years ago.
Specific photos of the jar. The oil spot effect fades in and out across surface of the storage jar.
If actually of the Jin period, then it came from a commercial kiln that produced utility products never intended as collectible artistic items.
If interested, I will be happy to post detailed pictures of the various bowls.
Bill, can you show more pictures of the top right bowl that looks like it's probably conical. Thanks! John
These are very much appreciated, though whenever I bid I lose. That bottle/jar is stunning. I never think of oil spots being so thought out. I love the bowl with the white rim, is it that the glaze receded at the lip or was it "trimmed" not sure the word for it?
Fabulous, and thanks for sharing.
Would you mind showing us the foot of the jar? I'd be interested in seeing it.
There is quite a difference in the oil spot glaze produced at the Shanxi kilns and the Jian kilns
Please can you post some photographs of your Jian bowl.
Rather heavily potted with a hare’s fur effect on the inner surface. Seems too big to be a tea bowl at 7” in diameter.
This type of tea bowl is quite interesting. The white rim is an ‘imitation in glaze’ of a silver band covering the un-glazed rim a finer, more expensive example. After dipping the bowl in a thick black glaze, the potter carefully wiped the black glaze off the rim and then let it dry so that it could be dipped into a white glaze to achieve the effect.
This sits on a rather fine American Federal mahogany table so the felt pads were added by me. Below is some further information from am older post about the bottle.
“In the past I spent time exploring museum web sites looking for similar Jin/Song examples that might show foot details. I have to confess I was hoping to find only one type of foot on these bottles (flat base or recessed base). No such luck! There were examples of both types. Also, since these were common storage bottles there are numerous variations on a theme regarding overall shape. I found an example of a bottle with recessed base and deep foot rim in the Freer Gallery and also another example in the Ashmolean Museum.”
”I want to pass on some additional information regarding these black wares from the best reference work on the subject. “Hare’s Fur, Tortoiseshell, and Partridge Feathers; Chinese Brown- and Black-Glazed Ceramics, 400-1400” by Robert D. Mowry published in 1996.”
“According to the book, my bottle would fall in the category of “Cizhou-Type monochrome-glazed wares” with an opaque grey stoneware body. The glaze on my piece is some variation of an oil-spot glaze. The bottle is definitely hand thrown with little attempt at fine finish. There are numerous small glaze flaws/rough spots. It looks to be the product of a commercial kiln producing utilitarian items. The tiny spots on my vessel do not look like the typical ‘oil spot’ glazes found on the classic Jin tea bowls that have been treasured in Japan since they were originally imported.”
“Nothing that I have read or seen has given any indication that oil-spot glazes would be applied to larger utilitarian or commercial products such as my vessel. I have only seen tea bowls with this glaze and I only actually have ever handled a very small example (under 3” diameter). According to Mowry, this oil spot effect on tea bowls was achieved by first coating the bowl in a layer of dark brown glaze. After it had dried, it was dipped in a more concentrated solution of the same iron-rich glaze. Finally, a solution containing additional iron compounds was brushed on the surface of each bowl before firing to ensure the formation of oil spots.”
“These types of bottles were never considered worthy of collection by the Chinese of the period. It would be as silly as inviting someone over today to view a nice collection of empty gin & whiskey bottles. However, these early utilitarian items started appearing in the antiques market in the first part of the 20th century as they were literally ‘dug up’ because of expanded public works projects. This same type of economic expansion (dams, roads, entire cities) started again in the 1990s and released a huge amount antiquities of the Han, Tang, Song and Yuan periods. Prices collapsed for everything that wasn’t exceptional or rare, so thousand year old items became affordable to mid-level collectors. My bottle was purchased during that era of excessive inventory for these types of antiquities. Because I had my doubts, it has always stayed in the ‘questionable’ pile instead of the ‘for sure’ pile.“
I like the 'oil-spot' meiping. Do you know kiln it belongs to?
I see that a similar vase to yours sold in 2018 which was described as a Cizhou piece,
But I have also seen silvery oil spot glaze as being made in the Shanxi kilns,
The research was all done with oil spot tea bowls. Mowry said “The best-known Cizhou-type oil-spot glazes were produced at kilns near Huairen, in northern Shanxi province, and in Zibo, in central Shandong province.”
I think my favorite of the group is still the first black ware that I ever purchased from a knowledgeable dealer from Chicago in the 1980s. She was a Chinese lady who had ties to the Hong Kong dealer network. She later specialized in antique Chinese furniture.
The inside, abstract design is fascinating. I wonder if the illiterate potter was imitating calligraphy?
About three years ago, I started to come across these larger items with oil spot glaze in some regional auctions. I had originally gotten my oil spot bottle with no expectation of any great age. It was chosen solely as a cheap example of a Song/Jin glaze type. My interest was peaked and I joined the forum in hope that someone would have some experience with these wares. At this point, the best I can say about the bottle is that I have found nothing physical that kicks it out of the running.
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