White Porcelain of Ding kiln in Song dynasty

                              Translator Echo 



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 on.
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 yellow.
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.

The impressed 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.



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