Jian stoneware bowl with ‘hare’s fur’ glaze
A stoneware bowl, the steeply sloping sides rising from a short foot and curving inwards slightly at the channelled rim. The bowl is covered in several layers of brown and black glaze. A glossy black glaze covers the interior of the bowl and extends over the rim, stopping in an uneven line just short of the foot, where it shows a characteristic teardrop. A dense pattern of russet ‘hare’s fur’ streaks extends from
the rim towards the interior and exterior of the bowl. The unglazed part of the bowl shows the dense, fine-grained purple-coloured stoneware body.
This exquisitely potted and glazed bowl is a rare example of jian ware. These bowls were made for drinking tea and they were given indented rims to make them comfortable for drinking, the indentation nicely accommodating lips and index fingers alike. In fact, recent research in Northern Song texts on tea suggests that the bowls owe their distinctive shape to the need for a deep bowl in which tea-competition contestants could prepare whipped tea. ‘Hare’s-fur’ streaked black glazes were desired because they showed the tea to best advantage. A closely comparable tea bowl of similar size, shape and design of russet ‘hare’s-fur’ glaze, dated to the Song dynasty, 12th – 13th century, is in the collection of the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard University Art Museums. 
Provenance: private collection, Japan private collection, UK
Collection of Dr. C. Zhao, Cheshire
- Mowry, R. Hare’s Fur, Tortoiseshell, and Partridge Feathers: Chinese Brown-and Black-Glazed Ceramics, 400-1400, Harvard University Art Museums, Massachusetts 1996, no. 79, pp. 213-5,