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Chinese Bronzes of the Shang and Zhou Periods
Han Dynasty Bronzes
Early Chinese Ceramics
Sculpture from Tombs
Chinese Buddhist Sculpture
Tang and Liao Dynasty Metalwork
Ceramics of the Song and Jin Periods
Porcelains of the Yuan and Early Ming Periods
Imperial Chinese Ceramics of the 15th Century
Ceramics of the Late Ming Period
Qing Dynasty Porcelain
Landscape Painting in China
Jade and Lacquer in China
North China; Northern Song period (960-1127), 12th century
Stoneware with sgraffito design in slip under glaze (Cizhou ware, probably from Xiuwu or Cizhou)
H. 12 1/2 in. (31.8 cm); D. 8 1/2 in. (21.6 cm)
Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection of Asian Art
The powerfully rendered peony flowers and leaves decorating this sturdy Cizhou bottle were produced using the sgrafitto technique, which is one of the most complicated and laborious methods of decoration in ceramic technology. Although Western scholars have generally described vessels in this shape as "vases," they were most likely bottles used for storing and serving wine. In this case, the light gray body of the vessel was first coated with a white mixture of water and clay (known as a slip), which was then covered with a black slip. After the outlines of the design were incised into the black slip, portions of the top layer were shaved away to reveal the white underneath. Finally, when the decoration was complete, the entire body (except for the foot) was coated with a thin, slightly whitish transparent glaze. The shape of this bottle, which is known as a meiping, is one of the most popular forms in the history of Chinese ceramics and was used for centuries.
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