Jar, carved and glazed stoneware, Yaozhou ware, China, Northern Song-Jin dynasty, 12th century

Jar, carved and glazed stoneware, Yaozhou ware, Shaanxi, China, Northern Song-Jin dynasty, 12th century. Height: 10.8 cm. Purchased with the assistance of The Art Fund, the Vallentin Bequest, Sir Percival David and the Universities China Committee. CIRC.71-1935 © V&A Images. 

This jar is an example of the Yaozhou wares typical of the Northern Song dynasty (960-1127). While the wares produced at the Yaozhou kiln complex enjoyed popularity from the end of the Tang dynasty (618-906) through to the beginning of the Yuan dynasty (1279-1368), this vase exhibits the olive green glaze and carved floral designs common to the Yaozhou wares of the Northern Song period.

The beautiful floral motif featured on this jar began with a smooth body, partially dried (or ‘leather hard’). Using an angled tool, the floral pattern was carved out of the surface in sloping grooves. The celadon glaze was then applied to this uneven surface, pooling in the crevices and laying thinly on raised areas. Through firing, the pooled up areas grew darker in colour, and the thinly glazed areas more transparent, creating illusion of light and shadows on the surface of this jar.

Bibliographic References: Kerr, Rose. Song Dynasty Ceramics. London: V&A Publications, 2004. p. 55, no. 50.