Northern Song dynasty (960-1127 C.E.)
White stoneware, incised decoration underglaze, metal rim
5.1 cm (h.), 21 cm (diam.)
Purchase, gift of F. Cleveland Morgan, inv. 1949.50.Dp.12
Archeology and World Cultures
Vessels of the Northern Song are considered the apogee of Chinese ceramics, both aesthetically and technically. Ceramics became one of the most precious commodities of the time, valued by connoisseurs as works of art worth collecting. The most important Song ceramics developed from the three stonewares of the earlier Tang period: white-, green- and black-glazed ceramics. White ware from the Ding kilns in Hebei province was especially appreciated at court and in Buddhist monasteries. Because the pieces were thinly thrown on the wheel, they were fired on their rims to distribute their weight and prevent deformation. This process left an unglazed band around the edge, which was covered with an ornamental metal rim. This elegant dish is freely incised with a delicate peony and foliage, possibly inspired by contemporary flower paintings. As with most Ding ware of the period, its ivory-white tone and transparent glaze emphasize the refined body and subtle decoration.