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Northern Brown-glazed Meiping
with Cut-glaze Peony Décor
北方褐色刻釉牡丹紋瓷梅瓶

Height: 39.0 cm. (15 1/4 in.)
Diameter: 18.4 cm. (7 1/4 in.)

Jin dynasty
12th-13th century

 

(NOTE: Further information is provided below the detailed images.)

Details:

Box and tag inscriptions –
宋瓷黒釉(線)彫牡丹文梅瓶
“Song black-glazed, line-carved, peony-decorated porcelain meiping.

 

The elongated ovoid buff-colored stoneware bottle has rounded shoulders terminating in a constricted neck supporting a truncated cone-shaped mouth and narrows to the foot that surrounds the recessed base. A thick dark-brown glaze covers the body overall save for the base and foot. Two massive peony blossoms occupy the horizontal body zone. The plump petals, leaves and hatched ground were incised with relatively bold lines, exposing the contrasting light-colored body beneath and against a hatched ground. A band of leaves above the main design, a wide undecorated field below it, and the overlapping petals beneath complete the design.

The potters who created the world of northern black and brown glazed stonewares were most inventive, imaginative, and resourceful. They were able to pull ornament, images, and pictures out of the basic dark ground of their glazes and become competitive players, and successful ones, in a world of ceramics intended for a domestic market. Henan, Shandong, Shanxi and Ningxia, were the important provinces that supported the kilns, which were the primary producers of these sturdy, dark-glazed stoneware vessels during the Song, Jin, Xixia and Yuan periods. Although some examples can be dated and provenance in China determined with some accuracy and certainty, for others it is more of a challenge.

A meiping related to the present in the Meiyintang collection is ascribed to the Jin or Xixia during the 12th or 13th century and to either northern or northwestern China, which would be either Shanxi or Ningxia (fig. 1). Excavations at the Lingwu kiln site in Ningxia revealed the production of “Brown-glazed vessels with similar large-scale sgraffiato designs with hatched backgrounds.”1 At the same time their signature meiping or bottle is somewhat unusual in comparison to standard meiping with flatter shoulders, wider mouth, more vertical sides, and the background of waves in the form of concentric arcs. Another related meiping, was excavated at Fenyang city in Shanxi province. It is ascribed to the Jin dynasty and supports a Shanxi provenance and Jin-dynasty date of production.

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1. See Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, vol. 1, London, 1994, fig. 451, p. 250. Further, from 1984 to 1986, the kiln site was excavated, resulting in the discovery of shards and kiln implements piled up four meters deep that covered an area of 200,000 square meters. A comprehensive report, Ningxia Lingwu yao fajue baogao, was published in 1995 by the Institute of Archaeology of the Chinese Academy of Social Sciences, Beijing.

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Fig. 1: Brown cut-glaze decorated meiping, “Jin or Xixia,” 12th or 13th century, Meiyintang collection, after Regina Krahl, Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, vol. 1, London, 1994, fig. 451, p. 250.

 

Figs. 2: “Teadust” cut-glaze meiping, “Jin,” excavated in 1992 at Xinghuacun Fen Wine Factory, Fenyang city, Shanxi, Shanxi Provincial Museum, after Zhang Bai, Zhongguo chutu ciqi quanji (“Complete Collection of Ceramic Art Unearthed in China”), vol. 5: Shanxi, Beijing, 2007, no. 150.

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