Song Dynasty, 13th century
Diameter: 3 7/8 inches (9.8 cm.)
A small bowl with straight sides in black glaze pooling thickly around the bottom edge, with regularly placed russet stripes on the exterior, a few russet stripes on the interior, a russet glazed rim, the base unglazed.
Chinese brown and black ceramics, with its dark iron oxide glazes, reached their peak popularity during the Song, Jin, and Yuan dynasties, spanning some four-hundred years. They were produced at numerous non-imperial kilns all over China, known generally as Cizhou, and reflected a philosophical shift away from the ostentatious, multi-colored and elaborated ceramic productions of the preceding Tang Dynasty. A renewed embrace of Confucian and Daoist beliefs, as well as of Chan Buddhism, was reflected in the discipline, restraint, and naturalness of ceramics during this time. Dark-glazed wares with russet splashes was a popular type produced in northern kilns.
This particular bowl has regularly spaced stripes that seem roughly applied, allowing the glaze to soften and blur at the edges and create dark-brown smudges with silvery halos when the light strikes it. The bowl was created as a painting or calligraphy, with expressive, personalized strokes that embraced imperfections rather than rigid rationality.