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January 24, 2010

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Celadon porcelain bowl a Zhejiang masterpiece

THIS celadon begonia-shaped bowl is a precious piece of Yue ware made in the Tang Dynasty (AD 618-907).

Yue ware refers to the pottery or porcelain works made by kilns located in today's Zhejiang Province. And it was so named because that area was then called "Yue Prefecture."

The Tang Dynasty and the Five Dynasties (AD 907-960) were the heyday of Yue ware, whose technique stood for the top level of celadon manufacturing among all wares at the time.

The celadon begonia-shaped bowl in the Shanghai Museum was made in the Tang Dynasty as a tribute to the emperor.

The bowl features its top rim shaped like a blooming begonia, an innovative and artistic bowl-making style of the era.

It is 10.8 centimeters high and is the largest of all begonia-shaped Yue ware bowls found.

It is considered a masterpiece for the fine quality of its porcelain body. The porcelain is delicate and smooth and the glaze appears mild and flawless.

Such quality was once compared to jade and ice by Lu Yu, the author of "The Classics of Tea Ceremony" (Cha Jing) in the Tang Dynasty.

Because the clay used for Yue wares usually contained a relatively high amount of iron and titanium, the porcelain bodies of the bowl turned out to be yellowish blue, a unique and distinguishing color of Yue ware celadon.

Lu also commented that Yue wares were the best porcelains of the time and the bowls were good for drinking tea.

Though it is untraceable whether the bowl was used for drinking tea in the Tang Dynasty, Lu's description definitely shows how exquisite Yue ware bowls were considered.

Though buried underground for more than 1,000 years, the bowl was in perfect condition when found, with its glaze glittering and tapping ping clear.


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