VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Bowl
DUROM.1969.40
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

Art of the Song period is characterised by an intellectual approach which in ceramics led to the pursuit of perfect harmony between a monochrome glaze and the shape of the vessel. This bowl is a superb example of this quest for perfection.

History of the Object
The Chinese ceramic industry experienced a period of considerable growth and innovation under the Song Dynasties. One innovation was a move to coal rather than wood firing in large scale kilns. This reduced costs and increased output – a revolutionary step not taken in Europe for another 1000 years. One by-product of using coal rather than wood is the creation of an oxidizing atmosphere which results in the characteristic warm, ivory colour of the glaze seen on this dish. Another major innovation was fushao (‘upside-down fringe’) firing. This method involved stacking wares upside-down in the kiln, resting on top of one another on special props. Four to five times as many objects could be fired at once - greatly improving efficiency. It also resulted in a characteristic unglazed rim, covered here with a band of copper.

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Type
Ceramics 
Materials
Porcelain with incised decoration, creamy white glaze and copper rim-band 
Measurements
diameter 23.4 cm, height 6.2cm 
Creator name
Chinese 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Hebei Province (ding) 
Geography
China 
Time period
AD 10th century ~ AD 12th century 
Creation date
10th Century - 12th Century; Northern Song Dynasty, 960-1127 
Function
A pair of mandarin ducks is one of the most frequent symbols of happy marriage in China because these ducks were considered to mate for life and if one of them should die the other would pine away. A bowl such as this would have made an ideal wedding gift. 
Acquisition
Gift from the Rt Hon Malcolm MacDonald in 1969 
Copyright
Copyright owned by Durham University Oriental Museum 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
Owned by Durham University Oriental Museum 
Museum
Oriental Museum 
Credit line
Gift from the Rt Hon Malcolm MacDonald 

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