Jin / Yuan Dynasty (13th Century)
Reference #: PE1107
Height: 8 inches (20.32 cm)
Collection of Robert M. Ferris IV, illustrated in Mowery 1996, Hare’s Fur, Tortoiseshell, and Partridge Feathers, number 53, p. 162.
Eunice and Herbert Shatzman Collection, illustrated in Avril 2002, Dark Jewels, figure 59, p. 67.
Of ovoid form with short straight neck and ringed mouth applied with two strap handles, supported on a short foot with recessed base. All but the footrim covered in a dark brown glaze and painted on the shoulders of either side in overglaze iron oxide with two stylized birds in flight.
Part of a group of black glazed bottles produced at the Cizhou kilns and decorated with either birds or flowers, examples such as the present piece would have been used for storing wine or another liquid and sealed with a fabric-wrapped wooden dowel. The decoration, like the “partridge feather” and other spotted Cizhou-type wares, was the result of applying iron oxide to the already glazed vessel. In this instance the design was painted on with a brush as opposed to splashed on or applied with a fingertip. The birds depicted on our vase are rendered in a spirited and painterly manner, reflecting the freedom of design that is commonly displayed on Cizhou wares. According to Dr. Bob Mowry, curator of Chinese Art at the Sackler Gallery, “potters at the various Cizhou kilns made humble wares, often taking inspiration from the aristocratic Ding and Yaozhou wares, and also from the celebrated Jian tea bowls. Untrammeled by the rarefied taste and conventions of the imperial court, Cizhou potters enjoyed a freedom of expression unknown to potters at kilns producing aristocratic wares; in a sense, the kilns became the great experimental laboratories of the day.” (Mowry 1996, Hare’s Fur, Tortoiseshell, and Partridge Feathers, page 31).