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Porcelain vase with Carved Peony Design, Northern Song Dynasty, 10th-11th Century, h.32.0cm. Gift of SUMITOMO Group, the ATAKA Collection. Acc. No. 10869 © 2009 The Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka

The Ding ware is counted among the five representative ceramic kilns of the Song dynasty, and the kiln sites in Hebei Province have produced white ware since the end of the Tang dynasty. The kiln site located in Jiancicun, Quyang-xian, Hebei Province, was discovered by KOYAMA Fujio in 1941. At their peak, the Ding kilns mainly produced bowls, dishes, and plates. Jars and bottles were rare. The bold carving of the lotus petal on the bottom of the vase makes this piece a rare example from the early Northern Song dynasty, produced prior to the peak period. The mouth of the vessel has broken off, and it is assumed that this vase had a flat saucer-shaped mouth.

Important Cultural Property. Porcelain deep bowl with Carved Lotus Design, Northern Song Dynasty, 11th Century, d.24.5cm. Gift of SUMITOMO Group, the ATAKA Collection. Acc. No. 10565 © 2009 The Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka

This may appear to be a deep bowl, but the wide area of the base indicates that it is a basin. The lotus design is delicately carved, beveled and combed, to appear faintly against the ivory white surface which is unique to Ding ware. The pot is altered slightly with six vertical lines, making it melon-shaped. The clay is extremely fine, with almost no impurities, making it impossible for this pot to be thrown very thinly, and it is surprisingly light for its size. It did not warp in firing because it was fired upside down, and the glaze on the lip was later grimed. We can see the potter’s masterful touch in the beveled trimming around the base and the thin, low trimming work on the foot. 

Porcelain dish with Impressed Design of Birds and Floral Sprays,  Northern Song Dynasty, 12th Century, d.21.7cmGift of SUMITOMO Group, the ATAKA Collection. Acc. No. 10656 © 2009 The Museum of Oriental Ceramics, Osaka

This dish is representative of a type of Ding ware that was decorated with moulded designs. The main motif is two flower-eating birds with outstretched wings and flowers held in their beaks. The background is filled completely with sprays of flowers, and the overall effect is that of a tight, highly finished design. The octagonal foliated rim of this piece is rare, and the unglazed edges are protected by a metal covering. The Ding wares allowed for oxidization during the firing process, resulting in the warm quality of the cream-colored finish.