Flowerpot stand, stoneware with a bluish-coloured glaze, Jun ware, Henan province, China, Jin-Yuan dynasty, 1200-1368. Height: 8.5 cm, Length: 23 cm. C.107-1939. Eumorfopoulos Collection© V&A Images

This flowerpot stand belongs to a type of ceramics known as Jun ware. Chinese ceramics are often categorized by the geographical area in which they were made, as the kilns of a particular region usually made only one or two types of ceramics at a given time in history. Jun ware was produced in the kilns of the Henan province and its height of production was during the Song dynasty (960-1279). It can be identified visually by its coarse stoneware body and its thickly applied glaze, which through firing gained an opalescent blue colour. At the edges the glaze ran thin, becoming semi-transparent and creating the simple and elegant colouring of this piece.

Some types of Chinese ceramics were made exclusively for the imperial household. Jun wares, however, were mostly made for popular use and were not widely collected before the late Ming dynasty, when they were first mentioned in scholarly writings. By the Qing dynasty their status had elevated, when the Qianlong emperor (reigned 1736-95) was an admirer of them and used them for decorating his domestic spaces. This flowerpot stand bears an inscription, added in the eighteenth century, describing its assigned location to an area in the inner palace of the Forbidden City, where Qianlong lived before he ascended to the throne, and later hosted celebratory events.

Marks and inscriptions: A size mark '1' incised on the base

Bibliographic References: Kerr, Rose. Song Dynasty Ceramics. London: V&A Publications, 2004. p. 38, nos. 29 and 29a.err, Rose. Song Dynasty Ceramics. London: V&A Publications, 2004. p. 38, nos. 29 and 29a.