A Jian 'oil spot' black-glazed bowl, Southern Song dynasty (960-1279)

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Lot 44. A Jian 'oil spot' black-glazed bowl, Southern Song dynasty (960-1279), 6 1/2 in. (16.5 cm.) diam., boxEstimate HKD 700,000 - HKD 900,000 (USD 90,570 - USD 116,447) © Christie's Images Ltd 2017

The bowl is elegantly potted with a wide flaring mouth rising from a short foot. It is covered overall with small silver ‘oil spots’ over a thick black glaze, stopping above the foot exposing the purplish-brown body.

NoteThis elegantly shaped bowl, graced by a myriad of iridescent spots on the interior, belongs to a small group of Jian wares with an especially fine and rare ‘oil spot’ glaze. Its relatively larger size with flaring mouth are also rather rare amongst Southern Song Jian wares, which usually feature steeper walls and straighter mouth rims. A comparable example is the renowned ‘oil spot’ temmoku bowl in the Sekaido Collection, which shares a similar shape and lustrous oil spots in the glaze. The great beauty of Jian wares lies in their glazes, which are fired between 1250-1350ºC. The glaze is overloaded with iron and the excess precipitates out, creating the stunning visual effects in the glazes. The Jian glazes are also liquid-liquid phase separated glazes and the formation of little glass droplets in the glaze during phase separation helps to carry the excess iron to the surface. As the droplets move to the surface and burst they produce the effect known as ‘oil-spot’ and then, if the glaze is allowed to run, it carries the burst droplets with it the effect of streaking that is known as ‘hare’s fur’ is produced. Much rarer are the glaze effects with spots, rather than streaks, and which required catching the glaze at the point when the optimum spotting was achieved, but before the glaze ran and created streaking.

Christie's. The Pavilion Sale - Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, 4 April 2017, Hong Kong