Chapter VII Porcelain of Song Dynasty
In 960, Song Dynasty was established and as a result, the chaos and separation of the country came to an end. Life of people was stabilized, new commercial cities appeared and commodity economy began to thrive. The rulers of Song attached more importance to liberal arts than military affairs and loosened control over handicrafts as well.
There was a great need of top class daily utensils by the royal family, high ranking officials, nobilities and businessmen; they also needed things to display and collect. All these needs brought about “official porcelain”, which was made especially for the royal family and government offices. At this time, tea houses and restaurants in cities also used quality porcelain to treat their customers.
Section I  Five Famous Kilns of Song
The five kilns, namely Ru, Guan, Ge, Ding and Jun kilns represented the highest level of porcelain manufacturing in the Song Dynasty; in terms of porcelain aesthetics, Song could be considered as an epoch making period, for the quality of wares produced by Ru and Ding Kilns was as crystal-clear as jade, and the blue glaze of Jun Kiln was as azure as the sky.
Black Glazed Jar with Carved Flowere Design, Song Dynasty
1.   Ru kiln replaced Dingzhou kiln: Ru Kiln was built to cater to the special needs of the imperial court. People of Song regarded the products of Ru Kiln as the “champion” among all porcelain products. But, during the Northern Song period, products by the Ding Kiln were often used by the imperial court because the patterns by way of stamping and carving were extremely extravagant with gold or silver inlaid at the openings. How come Ding Kiln products were given up and those by Ru Kiln were taken? This had a lot to do with the personal interest of Zhao Ji, Emperor Huizong of Song, a fatuous and self-indulgent ruler. He was known for his believe in Taoism and fond of the Taoist color—dark green, and wares produced by the Ru Kiln was of this color.
2.   Jun kiln products and Genyue hill: Jun Kiln was an ordinary civilian kiln. Emperor Huizong of Song liked very much the glaze used by this kiln, which was turbid blue, copper red—the result of changes of the glaze inside the kiln, and also red alternating with blue glazes. The emperor then had an official kiln built to produce for the imperial court, especially flowerpots.  
A Flowerpot produced by Jun Kiln
For the proliferation of his descendants, Emperor Huizhong accepted the advice of an alchemist and had a hill piled up, it was named “Genyue”, which means the northeast hill, on which strange flowers and animals should be placed. That’s why there was need of a large quantity of flowerpots. However, after people from Jin took over Bianliang, the capital in 1125, they also destroyed the Genyue hill, Jun Kiln then began to decay despite of repeated later efforts to revive it.
3.   Porcelain from official kilns and moving of the Song Imperial court to the south: Most official kilns emerged at the later period of Northern Song when artisans tried to copy bronze wares of both Shang and Zhou dynasties in porcelain production with the grey glaze, and turned out quite a number of masterpieces in the history of porcelain. These masterpieces are mostly in lavender grey glaze with clear ice cracks and of large sizes.
The Song imperial court built its first official kiln after it moved to the south in 1125. The kiln produced daily necessecities such as plates, bowls and cups; another official kiln was built in the suburbs to produce wares for use in sacrificial ceremoniesm, for the court could no longer afford for bronze and jade wares. The quality of those produced by the suburben kiln was better than thst of civilian kilns, but not as good as those produced by the first official kiln.  
Section II Popular Tea Drinking and the Use of Porcelain: The great need of porcelain in the society had a great deal to do with tea drinking, and to some extend with “tea fight”.

Emperor Huizong was the biggest fun of Tea Fight, some ministers and high ranking officials followed suit. Tea Fight was usually done in the spring when new tea was on the market. The fight was on the color and the tea solution. As a rule, the whiter the tea leaves were, the better; and the slower the round mark stained on the inner wall of the bowl, the better. There was a board of judges for the fight. In order to make the tea mark more visible, black or dark color bowls were used, the most famous ones were those with a glaze that looked like rabbit hair (as the picture on the lower left) and a glaze with patridge feather spot (as the picture on the top left on the next page). Most of them were produced in Fujian, because those produced there had very thin walls, on which water marks would fade away easily, and that would be good for the fight. The fact that black bowls have been excavated in almost every part of the country shows that tea drinking was popular nation-wide.



A painting on the theme of tea fight


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