In China, Song dynasty was the developing period during the feudal
times. Meanwhile, the ceramic industry unprecedentedly flourished.
The kilns of Song dynasty were distributed throughout China and
the production scale was large than ever.
The white porcelain made in Song dynasty gradually developed based
on that of Tang dynasty for new techniques were invented. During
this period, numerous kilns emerged which broke the situation that"
Xing kiln was the only kiln where white porcelain were fired in
north China". Among the new kilns, Ding kiln was the most famous
one in Hebei province. The porcelain fired in Ding kiln was of top-grade
that had a deep effect on other porcelain fired in Song dynasty.
In north China, the large kiln faction for white porcelain centered
in Zhang River and Fen River, it was called "Ding kiln faction".
Besides, there were several kilns in Shanxi, such as Pingding kiln,
Yuxian kiln, Yangcheng kiln, Jiexiu kiln, etc. As a result, Jingdezhen
kiln, Dehua kiln, Jizhou kiln, Chaozhou kiln came into being later
Ding kiln, one of the famous kilns in Song dynasty, was invented
in Tang dynasty. Influenced by Xing kiln, the porcelain fired in
Ding kiln manifested a tendency of delicacy and elegance. The firing
place for Ding kiln located in Jianci village or Yanshan village,
Quyang county of Hebei province. The white porcelain in Ding kiln
had a great impact on later products.
In fact, from Tang dynasty on, some products similar to white porcelain
of Song dynasty have been produced in Jianci village. Such porcelain
was divided into three kinds: the first one was daily-used porcelain,
including bowls, plates, basins, trays, etc. In general, they had
broad shoulder, flat bottom, thick body that was similar to "Tang
sancai". The second kind refers to those smaller ones used
for decoration, such as beast-shaped bottles, various trays, delicate
plates and so on. They had thin body whose color was white. Except
the veins, the third kind was almost the same as the porcelain of
Ding kiln. The body became more delicate and appeared a little bit
Concerning the feet of porcelain in different periods, they varied
depending on their shapes. Take bowls for example. In the early
years of Tang dynasty, the bowls of Ding kiln always had a flat
bottom and thick body. While in the latter part of Tang dynasty,
the bowls had thick body, broad ring foot and they were glazed both
inside and outside. Until Song dynasty, the ring foot of the porcelain
became more delicate. Moreover, the rim of the porcelain, the ektexine,
the techniques for decoration had also changed.
Before Song dynasty, the white-glazed porcelain was almost plain
and had not veins. Such situation has changed since the early years
of northern Song dynasty. During this period, the workmen in Jianci
village and Yanshan village not only absorbed the technique of making
body and glaze in Xing kiln but also learned the special way for
decoration from Yue kiln. In this way, the style and merit of the
porcelain in north and south China has been merged into a whole.
What is more, the veins of lotus prevailed in early times, then
porcelain with design of chrysanthemum appeared. Sometimes, they
may appear in one product.
The decoration for porcelain of Ding kiln included incised decoration,
scored decoration and impressed decoration. Incised decoration was
widely used in both north and south China, it was the major decoration
in early times of Song dynasty. During the primary period, the new
technique was not perfectly used that it showed a tendency of inharmony.
After the flourish of incised decoration, the combination of comb
pattern and incised decoration prevailed. The comb pattern was just
like the trace after the shaving of comb. The technique should be
like this: first of all, contour lines of the veins were drew in
the center part of the plate. Then workers shaved once with bamboo
comb inside the contour line. In this way, double veins in natural
form will be easily seen. The veins were mainly about two flowers
which were symmetrical sometimes. However, the double veins were
not always the same so as to create a sense of tridimension.
In the middle
times of northern Song dynasty, the workmen of Ding kiln merged
the techniques in producing gold or silver products and the measure
of firing white porcelain into a whole. As a result, the impressed
decoration came into being which had a deep effect on the porcelain
industry. Later on, it was fully developed. The veins were mostly
inside the bowls of plates and the lines were dense but clear.
The impressed decoration of Ding kiln greatly affected the porcelain
of Song dynasty.
decoration was mainly about flower pattern, including peony, lotus
and chrysanthemum that were symmetrical. Inside the bowl, there
were always three or four flowers. They were plum blossom of five
petals, sunflower of six petals and so on. Besides, there were
also some design about animals, birds and fishes, such as peacock,
phenix, mandarin duck, wild goose, duck, etc. Moreover, peony
and peacock, mandarin duck and lotus were always painted together.
Impressed decoration of dragon veins occupied a large part during
this period. Such veins were most printed on plates. In the central
part of the plate, a vivid dragon could easily be seen. Nowadays,
some of such products were collected in the museum while others
were dissipated in foreign countries. In the latter part of northern
Song dynasty, veins of kids' larkishness played an important role.
But veins of " three children and three fruits" were
the least. The children and the fruits were arranged at intervals.
The three fruits were peach, megranate and loquat. The three children
had various postures: one sitting on the branch, one riding on
the branch and one standing on the branch.
Concerning firing techniques, upside down firing was used in the
middle part of northern Song dynasty in order to increase the
output and save costs. When the porcelain was fired upside down,
they were called "upside down firing". It was widely
used because that the output could be five times than before with
the same amount of fuel. But one shortcoming of this technique
was that the mouth of the porcelain could not be glazed.