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Chinese Bronzes of the Shang and Zhou Periods
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Chinese Buddhist Sculpture
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Jade and Lacquer in China
China, Hebei Province; Northern Song period (960-1127), 11th - early 12th century
Porcelain with incised design under glaze, the rim bound with copper (Ding ware)
H. 2 1/2 in. (6.4 cm); D. 8 3/4 in. (22.2 cm)
Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection of Asian Art
This delicate bowl decorated with an incised pattern of lotus flowers and leaves exemplifies Ding wares of the 11th and 12th centuries. It has a thinly potted, extraordinarily light buff-colored body, a warm ivory-colored glaze, and lively and precise incised decoration. Examples of Ding ware from this period are considered the high point in the development of this ceramic type, which was produced from the 8th through the 13th (or 14th) centuries.

The kilns producing Ding ware are generally credited with several important innovations in ceramic technology including the upside-down firing technique, which helps prevent ceramics from warping during firing, and the use of stepped saggars. A saggar is a clay box used to hold an individual piece during firing. The invention of stepped saggars allowed the Ding potters to place ceramics one on top of the other in a single saggar, thereby increasing the number of pieces that could be produced in a firing. This was particularly important in the production of Ding wares, which are among the thinnest ceramics produced in China. In order to prevent them from sticking to the saggars, the mouths of pieces were not glazed; the copper band fitted to the mouth of this bowl covers the unglazed rim.

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