Period: Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279)

Date: late 12th–13th century

Culture: China

Medium: Stoneware with crackled blue glaze (Guan ware)

Dimensions: Diam. 8 5/8 in. (21.9 cm)

Classification: Ceramics

Credit Line: Fletcher Fund, 1924

Accession Number: 24.172.1


The outstanding feature of a family of ceramics known as Guan ("official") ware is a deep, rich glaze that reflects the Song delight in the soft colors of nature. The remarkable quality of the Guan glaze was achieved by applying it in many coats; this can be seen at the foot of this superb Guan dish, where the effect of the layering has been compared with the lines left on the shore by the receding tide. This dish is the embodiment of the sense of serenity that is the hallmark of Song pottery. Its glaze, which resembles the pale grayish blue of polished marble, can be fully appreciated only by running one's fingers over the surface. Guan wares were produced for the court in at least two groups of kilns in Hangzhou, Zhejiang Province, after the Southern Song capital was firmly established there.