Height: 25.500 cm
Asia OA 1936.10-12.153.a, b, c
Room 33: Asia
Qingbai wine ewer and basin
From southern China
Song dynasty (11th-12th century AD)
Delicately coloured and intricately carved
Qingbai ('blue-white') and yingqing ('shadow blue') wares take their name from the cool blue colour of their glaze, as produced at Jingdezhen in Jiangxi province, south-eastern China, from the tenth century. Much of the early production imitated northern white wares in shape and decoration, particularly the Ding wares of Hebei province. The different firing processes yield the very different colour tones.
Qingbai wares are known for the pure, sugary quality of the porcelain body. Another important feature is the way that the glaze pools, which shows incised decoration to great effect. This can be seen in this wine ewer and warming basin.
Two very similar ewer-and-basin sets appear in the late Song painting in the Beijing Palace Museum, The Night Revels of Han Xizai, which is a copy of the lost tenth-century original by Gu Hongzhong, one of the most famous paintings in Chinese art history.
S.J. Vainker, Chinese pottery and porcelain, (London, The British Museum Press, 1991)
J. Rawson (ed.), The British Museum book of Chi (London, The British Museum Press, 1992)