Song dynasty, 960 – 1279

Diameter: 5 inches, 12.7 cm

Height: 2 1/2 inches, 6.3 cm


A stoneware bowl of Jizhou type, its conical sides rising steeply from a short, slightly recessed base and terminating in a channeled rim. The interior is decorated with two “paper cut-out” phoenixes in flight, alternating with plum blossoms. The exterior is covered a predominantly black glaze, to which pale blue splashes are applied in a random pattern in imitation of tortoiseshell. The glaze stops just short of the foot, which is left unglazed.


The Jizhou kiln in Jiangxi province in southern China produced small, sturdily potted bowls usually covered in a dark brown or black glaze, which were used for drinking tea. It is unusual to find a Jizhou bowl employing two different techniques; one a “paper cut-out” technique to make the phoenixes and plum blossoms (both highly auspicious symbols) and another to produce the tortoiseshell-like pattern on the exterior of the bowl. In the paper cut-out technique, the decoration is first cut out in paper, then applied to the glaze. The paper subsequently burns away in the firing, leaving a perfect silhouette of what had been cut out and applied.