Tea bowl

DATE: 960-1279 (made)
PLACE: Fujian Province
MATERIALS AND TECHNIQUES: Stoneware with iron glaze

During the Song Dynasty, when China was experiencing a revival in both culture and the arts, the production of Chinese ceramics flourished. Kilns emerged in various regions across the country, each producing their own specialised wares. At this time, powdered tea was prepared in tea bowls, in which it would be whipped with hot water using a bamboo brush to produce a frothy drink. As Chinese tea-masters were regarded as arbiters of taste and morality, the tea bowls that they used were often aptly glazed in humble and subdued colours. Jian wares, with their iron-rich dark body and black glaze were considered highly appropriate tea-drinking vessels. The Jian kilns produced rustic bowls with characteristic fine brown streaks created by iron oxides. This was known colloquially as ‘hare’s fur’ glaze. Such tea bowls were de rigueur for a fashionable tea party in the Song Dynasty and earned the admiration of Emperor Huizong (8th Emperor of the Song Dynasty, r.1101-1125) who described their value in his treatise on tea, Dà Guān Chá Lùn.