A Jian-ware teabowl

Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279)


The bowl is of conical form and covered overall with a thick lustrous blackish brown glaze with dark streaks pooling in an uneven line above the foot with two thick drops. The foot is free of glaze revealing dark purplish stoneware body.

12.3 cm diameter


Acquired in China in the early 1980s


This bowl represents the classic form of tea ware produced in the kilns in Jianyang, in Fujian province. These were renowned for their unique suitability for drinking tea, and for the striking beauty of the streaks in the oxidized glaze, known as ‘Hare’s Fur’.

Two similar examples of Jian-ware tea bowls are in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London, and illustrated in Rose Kerr, Song Dynasty Ceramics, London, 2004, pl. 114-115. 

Jian hare’s fur bowls were also taken to Japan by Buddhist monks. The Japanese term for these bowls temmoku originates from the Chinese Tianmu wares which signifies the monastic communities in the Tianmu Mountains north of Jianyang.

For further reading see R. Mowry, Hare’s Fur, Tortoiseshell and Partridge Feathers, Cambridge, Mass., 1995 pp. 43-58.



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