Chapter VI Porcelain of Five Dynasties



 Five Dynasties and Ten States was another period of turmoil in the history of China. At this time, the southern part was more stable and more northerners went to the south. Even though the number of kilns reduced, yet the quality of porcelain was raised. Main kilns of this period were Yue Kiln, Yaozhou Kiln and Ding Kiln and all with a main product of celadon. Celadon from the Yue Kiln was of fine quality in regular forms with smooth surface and a thin opening and evenly applied thin glaze while those produced from Ding were in great varieties, yet coarse inner body could be found.


1.   The “Mi” color of Yue Kiln: Being the most famous kiln of the Five Dynasties period, it was situated in the State of Wuyue. “Mi” color porcelain was its unique product. When Wuyue State offered tributes to bigger states, it offered “Mi” color porcelain in great quantities.

 A sample of Yue Kiln product

There had been two interpretations of “Mi”: one is that it is a green color of mountain peaks. Judging from what “Mi” color porcelain we now can see, the color of the inner body is grey-white, but the glaze is jade green; the other refers to the official nature of the kiln, which was owned by the state, and sometimes it produced wares in secrecy, and the word “Mi” has a meaning of secrecy. A group of representative “Mi” color porcelain was excavated from tombs of the rulers’ family in Hangzhou, which was the capital of that state.

Yue Kiln products represented the designs on porcelain of the Five Dynasties, there were various twining dragons, flying cranes, phoenix, parrots and surging water of the Qiantang River and so on. After the ruler surrendered to the Song Dynasty, the Kiln and its production declined gradually.

2.     Celadon of Yaozhou Kiln in the north:  Over a million pieces of fragments were obtained during the large scale excavation on an area of over 10,000 square meters of the site of Yaozhou Kiln at Huangpu Town in Shanxi Province.

 A plate in the shape of a lotus flower produced at Yaozhou Kiln.

Quite an amount of pieces were obtained on the level of the Five Dynasties, and some could even be pieced together. There were plates, cups, trays, boxes, vases and pots, all in thin clay bodies. Some were in plain green glaze, some have carved or stamped flowers.The round stands of some plates and bowls extend out with full glaze as well.The discovery of Yaozhou celadon filled in the blanks of porcelain production in the north at this period. The unique small stand to support the clay bodies used at Yaozhou Kiln was very creative. Even though it was a civilian kiln, it often received orders from the government, as the character that means “official” was found on quite a number of the wares.

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