Jian stoneware bowl with ‘hare’s fur’ glaze

China, Song dynasty, 960-1279

Diameter: 3 1⁄2  inches, 9 cm
Height: 1 3⁄4  inches, 4.3 cm

A small 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 characteristic teardrops. A dense pattern of russet ‘hare’s fur’ streaks extend 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. Due to its small size it was probably used for drinking wine.[1]  The shape, dark stoneware body and black glaze with the typical ‘hare’s fur’ markings identify this bowl as a product of the jian kiln in northern Fujian province.  A very similar jian stoneware bowl comparable in size, ‘hare’s fur’ glaze and shape is in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing.[2]  Two other closely comparable jian bowls similar in size and glaze, dated to the Northern Song dynasty (960 – ­1127), are in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum.[3] Three further comparable small jian bowls of similar size but applied with different glazes, are respectively in the Meiyintang Collection [4] and the Muwen Tang Collection.[5]

  1. Kwan, S., Song Ceramics­ – The Muwen Tang Collection series, Vol. 11, Hong  Kong, 2012, p. 494
  2. Li, Huibing ed., Liang Song Ci Qi, vol.II­ Gugong bowuyuan cang wenwu zhenpin quaji, Shangwu yinshuguan, Hong Kong, no. 203, p. 221
  3. Kerr, R., Song Dynasty Ceramics, V&A Publications, London, 2004,  nos.  117  & 117a,  p. 115
  4. Krahl,  R., Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyingtang Collection, Vol. One, Azimuth Editions, 1994,  nos.  527  & 528,  p. 284
  5. Kwan, S., op. cit., no. 214, p. 494