Title:Wine Ewer and BasinArtist:Artist UnknownDate:Northern Sung dynastyCreation Place:Asia, ChinaCredit Line:Gift of Ruth and Bruce DaytonAccession Number:99.125a-c
Intended for serving warmed wine, this ewer, its fitted cover, and warming basin form a rare, complete set of what was once standard tableware for middle- and upper-class Northern Sung society. This fine quality, early porcelain was refined during the tenth century at Ching-te chen in southeast China. Porcelain stone was mixed with white kaolin clay to produce a whiter more plastic body with a wide firing range. Although often thinly potted and delicately formed, the translucent hardness of Ch'ing-pai ware made it extremely serviceable, and it appealed to a wide market both domestic and foreign. The blue-tinted glaze could, as the case is here, appear almost white. The faint blue color is due to a reducing kiln atmosphere provided by the pine wood fuel that was used. While utilitarian standard Sung forms were commonly produced at most Ch'ing-pai kilns, metal-derived shapes like this faceted ewer and its lobed basin were apparently peculiar to the kilns of Kiangsi province. In spite of its utility, aesthetic refinement, and popularity, Ch'ing-pai porcelain was not appreciated at court. Remarkably, it wasn't until the Ming dynasty that fine porcelain began to garner court sponsorship.