Tea Bowl with Indented Lip and Silvery-Brown Hare's-Fur Markings, Song dynasty, 12th-13th century



Tea Bowl with Indented Lip and Silvery-Brown Hare's-Fur Markings, Song dynasty, 12th-13th century. Jian ware: dark gray stoneware with dark brown glaze, the markings in iron oxide, the lip banded with metal. From the kilns at Shuiji, Jianyang county, Fujian province. H. 6.8 cm x Diam. 12.9 cm (2 11/16 x 5 1/16 in.). Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Purchase through the generosity of Leonard P. Braus, Alan J. and Suzanne W. Dworsky, Thomas M.T. and Catherine S.K. Fok, Mark Gaston, Dorothy T. Goldman, and David M. Leventhal and Bequest of Edmund C.C. Lin, by exchange, 2007.81 © President and Fellows of Harvard College. 

The walls of this large yankou wan, or funnel-shaped, tea bowl expand from the small, circular foot, beginning their steep ascent to the lightly indented, vertical lip at an angle approximately one-half inch above the foot. Thin at the rim, the walls thicken as they descend, so the relatively heavy bowl has a low-set center of gravity. Of standard Jian type, the short footring has a flat blottom and straight walls of intermediate thickness; also of standard type, the base is both flat and shallow. Appearing black, a dark brown glaze coats the bowl inside and out, excluding the foot and base. Although the angled change of profile arrested its flow on one side, the glaze ran to the foot in two thick tears on the other; the thick welt at the glaze's lower edge is thus irregulary configured. Denser at the mouth, a pattern of silvery brown hare's-fur markings extends to the glaze edge on the exterior and to the small, circular, lightly tilted floor on the interior. The exposed body clay on the bowl's lower eterior assumed a dark purplish brown skin in firing. The bowl was turned on the potter's wheel, after which its foot and base were shaped with a knife. Following a period of drying, the bowl was dipped in the glaze slurry; once it had dried again, its lip was immersed in an iron-bearing slip, which caused the hare's-fur streaks to form in the kiln. The bowl was fired right side up in its saggar, seated on a clay firing cushion.

ProvenanceJ.J. Lally & Co., New York (dealer) (2007)
Diane H. Schafer Collection, New York (acquired in the late 1980s or early 1990s)
James Bradford Godfrey, New York (dealer) (late 1980s or early 1990s)
Mrs. Agnes Hellner Collection, Stockholm, Sweden (widow or daughter of J. Hellner) (1980s)
J. Hellner Collection, Stockholm, Sweden (acquired in the 1950s or 1960s)
Probably from an old Japanese collection, as indicated by the metal rim and by the bowl's mid-twentieth-century entry into a European collection

PublicationRobert D. Mowry, Hare's Fur, Tortoiseshell, and Partridge Feathers: Chinese brown- and black-glazed ceramics, 400-1400, exh. cat., Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, MA, 1996), pp. 218-219, no. 82

Crosscurrents: Masterpieces of East Asian Art from New York Private Collections, exh. cat. (New York, 1999)

ExhibitionRe-View: S228-230 Arts of Asia, Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Cambridge, 05/31/2008 - 11/23/2008