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Pear-shaped Bottle, 12th century, Northern Song-Jin dynasty. Cizhou ware. Stoneware with « oil-spot » glaze, 12 13/16 x 6 3/4 in. (32.54 x 17.15 cm). Gift of Ruth and Bruce Dayton, 99.69.2. Minneapolis Institute of Arts © 2014 Minneapolis Institute of Arts.

Used primarily for serving wine during the Jin (1115-1234) and Yuan (1279-1368) dynasties, the distinctive form of pear-shaped bottles seem to have originated in eleventh century silver vessels which were imitated in ceramic at the Ting kilns of north China. The rare « oil-spot » glaze of this bottle was developed earlier at the Chien kilns in Fujian province during the Northern Song (960-1127). The dark brown-black glaze is covered with an « oil-spot » pattern comprised of numerous rust-brown spots each with a silvery metallic fleck in the center. After the first coat of glaze had dried, a solution rich in iron compounds was applied to create the desired silvery brown oil spots upon firing.