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Jian Tea Bowl




Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279)


Jian Tea Bowl


Black stoneware, iron oxide glaze, metal rim


7.1 cm (h.), 12.4 cm (diam.)


F. Cleveland Morgan Bequest, inv. 1962.Ed.23


Archeology and World Cultures

Often called Tenmoku, jian ware is linked to the emergence of tea drinking associated with Buddhist meditation practices. Tenmoku is the Japanese equivalent of Tianmu, the Chinese name for a mountain near Hangzhou dotted with Buddhist monasteries where Japanese monks often stayed. Jian bowls were made in the southern kilns of Jian in northern Fujian as early as the tenth century and later proved popular in Japan, where Zen monks compared their rustic simplicity and natural appeal to their own way of life. Jian bowls generally have a dark stoneware body decorated with a thick, oily iron glaze running into big drops at the foot. The colour is a very dark brown verging on black, often streaked with blue or steel grey, producing a pattern known as “hare’s fur.”

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