The delicately potted bowl, light in weight and translucent, rises at a wide angle from a small high foot. The foliate rim is perfectly notched at six equidistant points, each with a thin slightly raised rib extending down the interior to a small circular medallion marking the center bottom of the bowl. The bowl is covered overall, aside from the base, with a thin, bright, transparent, light-blue glaze. The bowl was fired on a clay pad, which is evident in the rusty orange discoloration and some grit remaining on the unglazed base.
Yingqing “shadow blue” wares (also known as qingbai “bluish-white”) were living a rich and full life in the south parallel to that of the white wares of the north from the 10th century onward and well into the Yuan dynasty. The geologic idiosyncrasies of the northern Jiangxi region where the most important kilns were located, at Jingdezhen where this bowl was produced, prompted the creation of a white ware, which at heart and soul, in its bones and body, was essentially different from that of the north. The fragile almost crystalline quality of the porcelanous bodies and their searing whiteness, and the diagnostic blue overcast of the glazes, were not only gifts of Jingdezhen’s natural resources but of a concentration of talented and adventuresome craftsmen as well. The paring of the walls of bowls, such as is evident in the present, resulted in a lightness and transparency unprecedented at that time in the world of ceramics. The grace of form produced by the light notching of the rim was perhaps an aesthetic benefit from a technical necessity. The cutting into the rim relieved stress during firing and the warping that could easily occur. Among the vast and diverse product of the kilns, bowls such as the present are truly the essence of the ware. Related examples of this most ethereal of Jingezhen’s Song dynasty include creations from the Hutian kiln site in Jingdezhen (fig. 1), the British Museum (figs. 2-3), and Japan (fig. 4).
Fig. 1: Yingqing bowl with notched rim, Song dynasty, after Hutian Kiln Site in Jingdezhen, vol. II, Beijing, 2007, pl. 16:7.
Fig. 2: Yingqing bowl with notched rim, Song dynasty, British Museum, after Stacy Pierson, et.al., Qingbai Ware: Chinese Porcelain of the Song and Yuan Dynasties, London, 2002, cat. no. 27, p. 73.
Fig. 3: Base of bowl in fig. 2, after Stacy Pierson, et.al., Qingbai Ware: Chinese Porcelain of the Song and Yuan Dynasties, London, 2002, cat. no. 27, p. 72.
Fig. 4: Yingqing bowl with notched rim and slight lobing, Song dynasty, 11th-12th century A.D., after Sekai Tōji Zenshū, vol. 12 (Song), Tokyo, 1977, fig. 154, p. 168.