Title:Tripod CenserArtist:Artist UnknownDate:Northern Sung dynastyCreation Place:Asia, ChinaCredit Line:Gift of Ruth and Bruce DaytonAccession Number:2004.132.2
The antiquarian aesthetic and introspective atmosphere of both the northern and southern Sung dynasties (960-1279) is reflected in the quiet elegance of this small censer possibly intended for the scholar's table. The grayish-bodied, porcelaneous stoneware of the T'ung-ch'uan district in Shansi province was known as Yao-chou ware and was commonly referred to as northern celadon. This rare vessel takes the archaic form of an ancient bronze ting tripod. The body is molded with complex, square fretwork, key fret and "s" scroll bands vaguely simulating the interlocking patterns cast into the ancient ceremonial bronzes. A vessel such as this would have been perfectly at home in a Sung dynasty scholar's studio. The eleventh and twelfth centuries were a period of intense academic interest in the ancient bronzes of Shang (1766-1122 b.c.) and Chou (1122-221 b.c.). Scholar's taste tended toward works such as this that recalled China's ancient past.