A pair of 'Jizhou' 'tortoiseshell'-glazed bowls, Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279)

Lot 98. A pair of 'Jizhou' 'tortoiseshell'-glazed bowls, Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279). Diameter 4 1/2  in., 11.4 cm. Estimate 30,000 - 50,000 USD. UnsoldPhoto: Sotheby's.

each with deep rounded sides rising to a slightly everted rim, covered overall with a dark brownish-black glaze and splashed with caramel-beige tones simulating tortoiseshell, the glaze stopping neatly above the short foot (2).

NoteSouthern Song potters at Jiangxi province's Jizhou kilns developed this lively dappled glaze to apply to various forms of stoneware cups, bowls, and vases. Known in Chinese and English as 'tortoiseshell' glaze, it is characterized by an overall black-coffee color inflected with creamy tones ranging from deep amber to taupe, as seen on the present bowls. The effect seems to have been created by first dipping the vessel in a medium-brown slip glaze then, following the drying, dipping it in a darker brown glaze slurry, splashing it with a paste of wood or bamboo-ash and water, drying it again, and finally firing it right side up in the saggar. 

A slightly larger tea bowl in the Simon Kwan Collection was exhibited in Song Ceramics from the Kwan Collection, Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong, 1994, cat. no. 170; and a similar one sold in our London rooms, 19th June, 2002. A tea bowl with similar coloration to the present examples sold in our Hong Kong rooms, 7th April 2014, lot 3624; and one with caramel-colored splashes sold in those same rooms, 2nd-3rd June 2016, lot 648.

A 'Jizhou' 'tortoiseshell'-glazed bowl, Song dynasty (960-1279)


A 'Jizhou' 'tortoiseshell'-glazed bowl, Song dynasty (960-1279). Sold 112,500 HKD at Sotheby's New York, 2nd-3rd June 2016, lot 648. Photo: Sotheby's.

(Cf. my post: A 'Jizhou' 'tortoiseshell'-glazed bowl, Song dynasty (960-1279)

Sotheby's. Important Chinese Art, New York, 13 Sep 2017, 10:00 AM