During the Song Dynasty (960-1279), a number of kilns in the Chinese provinces of Jiangxi, Fujian and Anhui specialised in the production of Qingbai wares, a name which designates the ‘pale bluish-green’ of a glaze which turned blue during firing. The colour is most noticeable where the glaze has collected on the surface’s indentations. Qingbai porcelain emulated the consistency of bluish white jade which was highly prized among China’s aristocracy. This particular style dominated Chinese ceramic production well into the 14th century, when it was replaced by both a domestic and international preference for blue and white wares with underglaze, painted decoration.
The area around the base of this Qingbai ewer reveals the biscuit-fired stoneware, the surface of which turned slightly red due to the oxidation that occured in the kiln at the end of the firing cycle. The ewer has a semi-rounded form, which suggests that the shape and design of the modern-day teapot was gradually developing during the Song Dynasty. Ewers such as this were used to pour hot water into bowls of powdered tea, which would then be whisked with a bamboo brush.