Jian stoneware bowl with ‘hare’s fur’ glaze

China, Song dynasty, 960 – 1279

Diameter: 3 5/8 inches, 9.3 cm

Height: 1 3/4 inches, 4.3 cm

A small stoneware bowl, the steeply sloping sides rising from a short foot and curving slightly inwards underneath a straight 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. 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 fine example of jian ware. Considering 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.   Two closely comparable jian bowls of similar size and glaze, dated to the Northern Song dynasty (960 – 1127), are in the collection of the Victoria and Albert Museum.[2]   Three further comparable small jian bowls of similar size but applied with different glazes, are respectively in the Meiyintang collection[3] and the Muwen Tang collection.[4]

  1. Kwan, S. Song Ceramics- The Muwen Tang Collection series, Vol. 11, Hong Kong, 2012, p. 494
  2. Kerr, R., Song Dynasty Ceramics, V&A Publications, London, 2004, nos. 117 & 117a, p. 115
  3. Krahl, R., Chinese Ceramics from the Meiyintang Collection, Vol. One, Azimuth Editions, 1994, nos. 527 & 528, p. 284
  4. Kwan, S., op. cit., no. 214, p. 494