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ALCHEMY IN BLUE: ANCIENT JUN WARE FROM THE YIP COLLECTION
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05 Jul 2008 - 30 Nov 2008

The University Museum and Art Gallery of The University of Hong Kong is delighted to present an exhibition of ancient Jun ware ceramics from the Yip Collection. Jun ware is distinguished in the history of Chinese ceramics because for the first time, the beauty of a vessel was defined by its glaze, and not, as previously by its form or body. The exhibition focuses on vessels dating from the late Northern Song to the Yuan periods (12th to 14th centuries), to show the unique artistic innovations that Jun ware represents.

The production of high-fired Jun stoneware began during the Northern Song period (960-1127), a period of great developments in Chinese art. Jun ware is unique among the other great wares of the Song dynasty because of its emulsified blue glaze sometimes decorated with copper-oxide red or purplish splashes. The thick glaze was inherited from the short-lived but revered imperial Ru ware of the late Northern Song period. Its splashed decoration initiated an appreciation of the individual beauty of Chinese ceramics over the pursuit of perfection, and marked a break in the convention for monochromatic ceramics of the Song dynasty.

During the Song dynasty, there was a general interest in nature that saw potters keen to experiment with the mineral components, firing temperatures, and kiln atmospheres to produce different blue tone effects and coloured splashes. This naturalistic approach was also reflected in organic ceramic forms that could be produced using the wheel, such as double-gourd-shaped, meiping or pear-shaped vases. An interest in antiquarianism among the educated also made archaistic metal forms popular in ceramic, such as tripod censers, handled altar vases or a tripod narcissus basin in the exhibition.

This exhibition presents a unique and comprehensive survey of Jun ware to show its evolution from the exquisite craftsmanship of the Song and Jin (1115-1234) periods to the monumental forms of the Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) with their use of applique designs.

 

Dish with lavender-blue glaze and purple splashes

 Late Northern Song (c. 1100-1130) 

 D 18 cm 

 

Tripod censer with lavender-blue glaze 

 Yuan dynasty (1271-1368) 

 H 12.5 cm W 11.5 cm 

 

Altar vase on stand with lavender-blue glaze 

 Jin (1115-1234) / Yuan dynasty (1271-1368)

 H 19.8 cm W 9 cm 

 

 

(Photo courtesy of University Museum and Art Gallery, HKU)

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