Dish in imitation of Ding ware, moulded and glazed stoneware, Huozhou ware, Shanxi province, China, Jin-Yuan dynasty, 1200-1368. Diameter: 13.7 cm. 41-1883. © V&A Images

Ding ware was a highly sought-after style of porcelain made in the Ding kilns of the Hebei province, that reached their height of popularity during the Northern Song (960-1127) and Jin (1115-1234) dynasties. Ding wares were of the earliest true porcelains made in China, and were known for their bright white bodies, impermeability and fine texture. They were produced as ‘official wares’ for use at court, and were highly esteemed throughout China. This naturally resulted in the production of many imitations, including this dish (front left of image) from the Haozhou kilns in the Shanxi province.

While it displays the Ding ware characteristics of a white colour and a decorative metal rim, its firing method reveals it as an imitation. Ding wares were often fired upside down, a strategy that served to spread the weight of the object onto the rim, guarding against any malformation of their thinly potted bodies during the firing. This left behind an unglazed area at the rim, which was often hidden by a metal covering. This dish was fired by a different method, evident from the spur marks at its centre (small imprints from the stand it rested on in the kiln), revealing it as an imitation of Ding ware.

Bibliographic References: Kerr, Rose. Song Dynasty Ceramics. London: V&A Publications, 2004. p. 50, nos. 45 and 45a.