Ru ware cup-stand
From Qingliangsi, Baofeng county, Henan
province, northern China
Song dynasty, late 11th- early 12th century AD
Lavender-blue crackled glaze
Ru is the rarest of all the major Chinese ceramic wares. Until recently, it was thought that only about forty pieces survived, nearly half of them in British collections. It was the first ware made specifically for the Chinese imperial court, and was only produced for a period of about thirty years, from AD 1086 to 1127, when the Song court fled to Hangzhou in the south. Guan ware was produced in the south, perhaps as a local replacement for Ru wares.
This cup-stand takes its shape from objects made of silver or lacquer. The form was used in both materials as early as the eighth century. Like nearly all Ru wares, it is undecorated and its glaze is crackled. It is believed that the crackling was not intentional.
Connoisseurs have always valued Ru ware, like jade, for its tactile quality and subtle colour variations. With its simple forms, absence of decoration and fine glaze, Ru ware is perfectly understated.
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)
Height: 7.600 cm
Asia OA 1971.9-21.1
Gift of Sir Harry and Lady Garner