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Jar and Cover, 12th century. Cizhou style ware. Stoneware with black glaze and russet markings, 3 3/8 x 4 11/16 x 4 11/16 in. (8.57 x 11.91 x 11.91 cm) (overall). Gift of Ruth and Bruce Dayton 2003.99.1a,b © 2014 Minneapolis Institute of Arts, 2400 Third Avenue South, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55404

This jar of « lotus bud » form rests on a wide, unglazed, knife-cut foot rim revealing the buff-colored stoneware from which it is potted. Faint finger grooves by the potter can be detected where the black glaze has collected on the encircling ridges. Ceramics glazed all over in dark brown or black presented a challenge to the decorator and a variety of innovative techniques were devised to enliven these dark wares. In this example, an iron-rich glaze was dotted over the original layer and then splashed with five large spots. During the firing, this second glaze matured to a deep russet providing an abstract pattern and exquisite contrast in color. During the Northern Song (960-1127) and Jin dynasties (1115-1234), this type of ware was produced at Cizhou type kilns in Honan, Hopei and Shantung provinces.