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Home History and Culture King of Kiln in Song Dynasty
King of Kiln in Song Dynasty
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The world, to a great extent, is coming to know China through the chinaware it produced, and the country's porcelain was virtually used as a yardstick in evaluating Chinese civilization. Without the invention and development of fine porcelain, China's history would have been decidedly different.

The Ding Kiln (dìng yáo 定窑)
dingyaoDing kiln is located in the Quyang county (qǔ yáng xiàn 曲阳县), Hebei Province (hé běi shěng 河北省), which is called Dingzhou (dìng zhōu 定州) in the Song Dynasty (sòng cháo 宋朝)(960—1276). It was built in the Tang Dynasty (táng cháo 唐朝)(618—907).
The Ding Kiln was known for its white porcelains. It used durable white clay (gāo lǐng tǔ 高岭土) as the roughcast (pī 坯), covered by white glaze (bái yòu 白釉). In the early Song Dynasty, the decoration patterns were relatively simple, by the end of the Northern Song Dynasty the paintings were much more complicated. Some of the Ding porcelains were imperial contributions to the court.
On the other hand, the Ding aesthetic relied more on its elegant shape than ostentatious decoration; designs were understated, either incised or stamped into the clay prior to glazing. Due to the way the dishes were stacked in the kiln, the edged remained unglazed, and had to be rimmed in metal such as gold or silver when used as tableware.

The Ru Kiln
ǔ yáo 汝窑)
Ru ware was produced for imperial use only. In 1986, the ruins of the kiln was found in the neighbouring Baofeng county (bǎo fēng xiàn 宝丰县). 
After the Northern Song was vanquished by the Jin Dynasty, the Ru Kiln also died out. So it just opened for a few decades. As a result, even in the Southern Song Dynasty, the Ru ware were considered very valuable. Today, only 65 pieces of Ru porcelains are well kept. Among them 23 are reserved in the Taipei National Palace Museum, 17 in the Beijing Forbidden City Museum, 8 in the Shanghai Museum, 7 in the Percival David Foundation of Chinese Art in Britain, others reserved by the private collectors.
The Ru Kiln porcelains have a special sapphire like clear blue. Many collectors call it "the blue sky after shower". This is an important character of the Ru porcelains.


The Jun Kiln (jūn yáo 钧窑)
The Jun kiln was located in the Yu County (yǔ xiàn 禹县) , Henan Province (hé nán 河南), close to the Song (sòng 宋) (960—1276) capital Kaifeng City (kāi fēng 开封). The Jun Kiln was established by the government in the Northern Song Dynasty and its porcelains used to be the favorite for the Emperor Huizong (huī zōng 徽宗). In the Southern Song Dynasty (nán sòng 南宋) (1127—1276), the Jun Kiln was one of the biggest kilns in North China. It was finally closed in the late Yuan Dynasty (yuán cháo 元朝) (1206—1279). 
The design of the Jun porcelains was 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. The copper red color was caused by a special procedure called the furnace-transmutation. The Jun Kiln used copper-rich glaze to cover the roughcasts. The copper was very sensitive to the variation of the kiln conditions. A tiny change of the temperature of air can create totally different color. The copper red was treasured by the Song nobles. 

The Guan Kiln (guān yáo 官窑)
guanyaoIn Chinese, "Guan" means the government. The Guan Kiln was the government kiln only producing fine porcelains for the royal family and court. There were Northern Song Guan Kiln and Southern Song Guan Kiln, according to different Dynasties. 
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. The Southern Song Kiln's porcelains had light green, gray or yellow glaze. There were many crackles (kāi piàn 开片) on the surface, making it similar to another famous kiln the Ge Kiln (gē yáo 哥窑)'s porcelains. 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" (zǐ kǒu tiě zú 紫口铁足). 

The Ge Kiln (gē yáo 哥窑)
geyaoThe Ge Kiln is also called the Liutian Kiln (liú tián yáo 琉田窑) or the Old Brother Kiln. It was established by the Song Dynasty craftsman Zhang Shengyi (zhāng shēng yī 张生一) in Liutian County (liú tián xiàn 琉田县), Zhejiang Province (zhě jiāng shěng 浙江省). His younger brother Zhang Shenger (zhāng shēng èr 张生二) also built up another famous kiln the Di Kiln (dì yáo 弟窑) in Longquan (lóng quá龙泉). 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. The roughcast is gray or black in color, covered by glaze on both internal and external sides. The glaze is clear and even, covered by many crackles. It is said that Zhang Shengyi accidentally cooled the kiln prematurely when the porcelains were still too hot. The sudden cooling made the glaze cracked into pieces. He had to fill the cracks will different colored glaze, thus created a new type of glaze. The Ge porcelain makes a music sound when being tapped. The designs are also nice and elegant. 

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