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Five Famous Kilns of Song

The Song Dynasty (960-1279) witnessed booming development of Chinese porcelain making crafts, and porcelain making saw big achievements in terms of types. styles and firing techniques. Five kilns became outstanding during this period, namely Royal Kiln. Ding Kiln. Ru Kiln. Jun Kiln and Ge Kiln.

Purple Mouth and Iron Foot -- Guan Kiln:

In Chinese, "Guan" means the government. The Guan Kiln was the government kiln only producing fine porcelains for the royal family and court. It includes the Northern Song Royal Kiln and the Southern Song kiln, and the site of the latter one was in Hangzhou. The Northern Song Guan Kiln's porcelains was similar to the Ru Kiln: the roughcast was strong and smooth, the glaze was clear and shining. Most of its products were bowls, plates, bottles and washing vessels which generally had no decoration but had cracks. The upper rim of the porcelains had a purplish color while the lower rim had a dark iron color. This was called "the purple mouth and iron foot".

Ivory-White With Gold Rim -- Ding Kiln:

The Ding Kiln was originated in the late Tang Dynasty (618-907) while ended in Yuan Dynasty (1271-1368), the location of which is in the Quyang County (called Dingzhou in the Song Dynasty), Hebei Province. Its style was affected by the Xing Kiln in the Tang Dynasty. The main products were white porcelain combined with green glaze, black glaze and brown glaze. Ding kiln was famous for its beautifully decorative patterns, carving, painting and printing decorated it. The spotless, white, fine and smooth, with well-proportioned colors, various shapes and different patterns made Ding porcelain the top variety of white porcelain, even some of which were imperial contributions to the court. The Ding Kiln used a special overlap heating method in the furnace: the workers overlaped several vessels together in the furnace, while the other kilns only put one laye. Therefore, comparing to the other kilns, the Ding Kiln had a much larger production output.

Blue Sky After Shower -- Ru Kiln:

The Ru Kiln was established in 1107 AD, in the Northern Song Dynasty. Its location was believed to be in the Linru County, Henan Province. But till now, the exact location has not been found yet. Only porcelains were handed down. The products fired in Ru kiln were mainly for royal use. Its design was affected by another big kiln the Yue Kiln in South China. Therefore the Ru Kiln produced celadon as its major product. The cast of the Ru Kiln porcelains were very smooth, fully covered by bluish glaze, with some tiny fine crackles. The Ru Kiln made utilities such as bowls, plates, bottles, basins and boxes. The Ru Kiln was only opened for a few decades. It was closed when the Northern Song was defeated by the Jin Dynasty in 1127.The Ru Kiln porcelains have a special sapphire like clear blue. Many collectors call it "the blue sky after shower".

Furnace Transmutation -- Jun Kiln:

The Jun kiln was located in the Yu County, Henan Province, close to the Song capital Kaifeng City. It was established by the government in the Northern Song Dynasty (960-1127) because there need special flower vases, jars or basins to hold the rare and valuable flowers or stones of the imperial family. The kiln flourished in the late Northern Song Dynasty and finally closed in the late Yuan Dynasty. Jun Kiln belongs to north celadon system, the feature of which was the usage of flambé glaze. The design of the Jun porcelains were simple and unsophisticated, but very modest. The glaze color was usually sky-blue or moon-white. The Jun Kiln also created a very special copper red, which was caused by a special procedure called the furnace-transmutation: the single colored glaze changed its color during the heating procedure.

Crackles Like Ice -- Ge Kiln:

The Ge Kiln is also called the Liutian Kiln or the Old Brother Kiln. It was established by the Song Dynasty craftsman Zhang Shengyi in Liutian County, Zhejiang Province. His younger brother Zhang Shenger also built up another famous kiln the Di Kiln in Longquan. The Di Kiln is also called the Younger Brother Kiln or Longquan Kiln. The Ge Kiln porcelain belongs to the celadon family. It is special for its glaze and shape. Most of its products were black and can be divided into eel blood, blackish blue, fawn pattern according to the color. While basing on the shape, they are classified as net pattern, plum blossom pattern, fine pattern etc. The feature of the cracks was: flat. tight and a little blue. Although there were a lot of porcelains of Ge Kiln handed down, its sites still have not been found, which became an unsettled question in the history of Chinese ceramics.

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