Ding ware dish with design of lotus,, early 12th century, China, Northern Song (960 – 1127), Hebei Province, porcelain with underglaze carved design, rim bound with copper, 4.3 x 19.7 cm. Bequest of Kenneth Myer 1993, 581.1993. Art Gallery of New South Wales © Art Gallery of New South Wales
The first of the classic wares to receive the patronage of the Northern Song court, Ding ware is distinguished by its thin white body, its warm, ivory-coloured glaze and the fluent beauty of its carved and incised decoration. The glaze has a tendency to pool in drops that Chinese poets have eloquently described as ‘tear drops’. The Ding kilns are credited with several innovations in ceramic technology, including the method of firing upside-down (called ‘fushao’), which stopped the thinly potted, larger dishes from warping but also necessitated the application of a copper band to the unglazed rim. So subtle is the design on Ding ware that photographs still cannot do justice to the fluent beauty of its carved designs and the sensuous tactility of its glaze.
‘Ding ware’, The Asian Collections, AGNSW, 2003, pg.104.
Large shallow dish decorated with carved floral design, Ding ware, 11th century-early 12th century, China, Northern Song (960 – 1127), Hebei Province, porcelain with underglaze carved design, rim bound with copper, 6.0 x 30.4 cm. Anonymous gift 2000, 134.2000. Art Gallery of New South Wales © Art Gallery of New South Wales
Ding ware has been designated one of the ‘five great wares’ of China since the Song dynasty. One of the first wares known to have been used at the Imperial Court, Ding ware is characterised by its light buff-coloured body, its warm ivory-coloured glaze, and the fluidity of its carved designs. One innovation of Ding wares was to fire pieces upside-down in saggars, a technique which helped prevent warping. To prevent sticking, the mouths of pieces were not glazed: hence the copper rim (as seen on this piece) which is typical of Ding.
Despite all the technical advances that occurred at the Ding kilns, glazes tended to run in drops that are known in Chinese as ‘tear drops’ and which attracted the attention of poets. This splendid dish sports typical tear drops on its reverse side.
Asian Art Department, AGNSW, 17 May 2000
Vase, Ding ware, 10th century-11th century, China, Song (960 – 1279), high fired stoneware, translucent glaze, greenish tint, 11.1 x 11.5 cm. Purchased 1979, 82.1979. Art Gallery of New South Wales © Art Gallery of New South Wales