Yaozhou ceramic box

From Shaanxi province, northern China
Northern Song dynasty, 11th-12th century AD

Small covered box with exquisite carving and pooled glaze

In the tenth century, the Huangbaozhen kilns in Yaozhou (now Tongchuan county) began producing greenwares. At the time, Yaozhou wares imitated the decoration of the celebrated Yue wares made in the south. By the eleventh century, though, the kilns produced ceramics which were more closely related to contemporary Ding whitewares from the north.

Like Ding, Yaozhou wares were decorated in two principal ways: carving and moulding. The earlier pieces tend to be carved or incised. The introduction of moulding allowed for mass production and for more complex designs, though the result is often less pleasing.

The green Yaozhou glaze has a special property: it pools around the carving, setting off the design to great effect. This small box is an excellent example. It may have been used for cosmetics.

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More information


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)


Diameter: 7.000 cm (approx.)

Museum number

Asia OA 1947.7-12.137.a, b


Bequeathed by Henry J. Oppenheim


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