Probably intended for wine, this ovoid bottle is covered with a nearly black glaze into which a decorative scheme was incised and carved before firing. The dark glaze design elements appear against the light grey ground of the exposed body clay. Commonly known as the "cut-glaze" technique, this decoration was most likely inspired by the partially glazed brown and white ceramics produced during the T'ang dynasty (ninth century) at the Huang-pu kilns.
The technique was fully developed at a number of Tz'u-chou type kilns during the early Northern Sung (960-1127) and it rose to prominence during the Chin period (1115-1234). This particularly fine example with precisely carved floral patterns was made in the Huai-jen kilns in northern Shansi province.