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The Influence on Cizhou Kiln from Drinking Custom in the Song and Yuan

Updated: 2012-03-31 11:09

Cizhou is located at the southern part in Handan city of Hebei province. It was named for Cizhou in 590 during the Sui Dynasty (581-618), where magnetite is abounded. Cizhou Kiln is the great representative of folk kilns in the northern part of ancient China.

Cizhou porcelain came in many glaze colors: white, black, yellow, brown, and green as well as a blended glaze. Cizhou's most outstanding achievement was applying the traditional Chinese art of painting to porcelain, with the painted decoration on white glaze being mostly black or brown, or black on green or yellow glaze. There were also incised, engraved, carved, and embossed designs on white glaze, all showing proficient skills.

Due to the colorful secular life and the strong drinking culture, the drinking vessels were in great demand in the Song Dynasty (960-1279) and the Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), which made the Cizhou Kiln, the biggest kiln system, develop rapidly, especially in the vessel shapes, decorative patterns and the yield. The drinking culture had an impact on the Cizhou Kiln at all levels, which was the most important factor.

Popular wine vessel of Cizhou kiln in the Song Dynasty and the Yuan Dynasty

During the Yangshao culture period 6,000 years ago, ceramic wine cistern and wine bowl appeared because of the affection between porcelain and wine. From then, wine has had an increasingly close relationship with porcelain. Wine vessels have a large proportion of the extant Cizhou kiln porcelain of Song and Yuan period. They are mainly vase, pot, curse, cup, bowl, bottle, and urn. This phenomenon reflects how important wine is in people’s lives. Vase, as the primary wine container, is used most frequently, especially Jing vase (or plum vase), Yuhuchun (a famous brand of ancient Chinese wine) vase and Sixi (four ears) vase.

Jing (means clean) vase or plum vase

Jing vase was named in the Song Dynasty. Its function is storing wine. Part Three of Hou Jing Record, which was written by Zhao Lingchou, a writer from the Song Dynasty, says “Pottery is used to hold wine. The indigenous people of Jin’an county use the pot to hold wine, which has a thin neck, a ring gate and a slender belly for volume of just one pipeful.”

When people drink, they usually pour the wine from Jing vase to Yuhuchun vase and then into bowls or glasses (except binge drinking). During the Song and Yuan dynasties, Cizhou kiln produced numerous Jing vases. Yuan Wen, a writer of the Song Dynasty, wrote in Part VI of the Comments of Wong You: People nowadays call the big wine vase Jing (Jing means capital) vase. Jing (which means clean) vase is Jing (capital) vase. So we can see that Jing vase is really popular in the Song Dynasty. The body of Jing vase is always high and the mouth is small. Jing vase can be seen everywhere in homes and wine shops. People who lived in the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644) had the custom of arranging plum in vase, and Jing vase’s small mouth could match the thin limb of plum, so people called them plum vase instead of Jing vase.

Picture One

Song Dynasty Fragrance Scents the Miles From The Plum Vase

The source of page 108 of The History of Cizhou Kiln, edited by Wang Xing, Tianjin Ancient Books Press

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