Book: Ceramics - Art or Science? Author: Dr. Stan Jones

8. Ceramic Development in China

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8.28 Chin (Jin) Dynasty (1115-1234 AD)

The policy of paying off the Liao caused the Sung to leave their Northern Frontiers inadequately protected. In 1114 AD, the Juchen Tartars in Manchuria revolted against the Liao. The Chinese army took the opportunity to back the rebel Juchen to help destroy their old enemy the Khitan. This was initially successful and the Juchen set up their own Dynasty in the North East of China called the Chin (sometimes Jin) meaning “golden”, in 1115 AD, replacing the Liao. However, shortly after, the victorious Chin threatened the Sung with invasion so an agreement was made that the Sung would pay Tribute to the Chin. However, the Sung Emperors were a bit forgetful and in 1126 AD the Chin appeared at the gates of the Capital Kaifeng demanding their money and besieged the Northern Sung Capital. They took the new Sung Emperor Chin-tsung, the recently abdicated Emperor Hui-tsung and some of the Imperial Court prisoner, and set up their Capital, Yangjing, near the city later to become Peking (Beijing). The Chin forced the Sung to leave Kaifeng and the North of China, as far south as the Ching Ling Mountains and the Huai River, to them.

Sung or Chin combed decoration through brown glaze, foot wiped clean for stacking in kiln - courtesy R&G McPherson Antiques

Sung or Chin combed decoration through
brown glaze, foot wiped clean for stacking
in kiln - courtesy R&G McPherson
Antiques

Chin Cizhouware pillow and bowl with white slip and iron oxide rich black decoration - courtesy R&G McPherson Antiques

Chin Cizhouware pillow and bowl with white
slip and iron oxide rich black decoration
- courtesy R&G McPherson Antiques

Chin Cizhou sgraffito - courtesy R&G McPherson Antiques

Chin Cizhou sgraffito - courtesy R&G
McPherson Antiques

Jin or Yuan polychrome dish with Buddhist lion decoration - courtesy R&G McPherson Antiques

Chin or Yuan polychrome dish with Buddhist
lion decoration - courtesy R&G
McPherson Antiques

Often kilns continued through periods of Dynastic change without too much interruption, and this happened to a large extent when the Chin took over North China. Most of the wares continued unabated as noted in the last section, including Northern blackware, but moulded decoration increased rather than carving. Cizhou ware remained very popular, and continued to develop. Sgraffito decoration was used showing the putty coloured body through a cream slip. As coloured glazes capable of surviving high-fired stoneware temperatures were very limited, potters were continually trying to find a way of using more colourful glazes on this strong body. In the late 12th century northern potters developed the technique of overglaze polychrome decoration (enamelling). Stoneware was white-slipped, coated with a colourless high-temperature glaze and fired to stoneware temperatures. It was then painted with brightly coloured lead-fluxed glazes and re-fired at 800-900 degrees C, when the lead glazes melt but the main glaze only softens, and they fuse together. This method brought back the Tang repertoire of lead glazes. The earliest known example of overglaze painting in Chinese pottery is dated to 1201 AD. Early colours were copper green, iron red, and antimony yellow. Later manganese black and iron brown were introduced. Decoration included lotus sprays and peonies, fish, birds and Chinese characters. The bright colours, variety and vigour of this pottery contrasted with the restraint of contemporary Court wares.

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