Chinese Ceramics: White, Celadon, Black, and Iconic "Jianzhan"

Jianzhan - A Treasure among Chinese Ceramics

Chinese ceramics are divided into three major series: white porcelain, celadon, and black porcelain. Jianzhan produced by the Jian kiln in Jianyang is one of the eight famous ceramics of the Song Dynasty and is the most typical representative of black porcelain. It is known as the "Black Peony," a precious treasure among ceramics, and was used by the imperial court during the Song Dynasty.

      In 2009, it was listed in the third batch of Fujian Province's intangible cultural heritage list; in 2011, it was listed in the third batch of national intangible cultural heritage list.

      The beauty of Jianzhan

Jianzhan is a type of tea bowl that is fired at high temperatures in the kiln. Through the art of firing, various natural and unique patterns are created on the glaze surface. In ancient times, these patterns were difficult to control and resulted in unpredictable glaze colors, resembling the scenery of the universe's starry sky. The exquisite and unparalleled beauty gives people a sense of simplicity and elegance.

     Rabbit hair Jianzhan is the flagship product of the Jian kiln, characterized by rain-like crystalline patterns on the black glazed surface, resembling rabbit hair.

     Partridge spot Jianzhan (Figure 2) is a rare and precious Jianzhan, characterized by a pattern of spots on the glaze surface, resembling the black and white spots on the chest feathers of the local partridge in the Jian kiln area. It is also called "oil drop" in Japan, resembling drops of oil floating on the surface of water.

     Yao Bian Jianzhan (Figure 3) is a unique product of the Jian kiln, extremely rare, and its Yao Bian pattern is dazzling and exceptionally gorgeous, making it the most precious Jianzhan. The four national treasure-level Jianzhan (3 Yao Bian and 1 oil drop) that have been passed down are all preserved in Japanese museums and are renowned as world treasures.

     The largest dragon kiln in the world existed during the Song Dynasty in the area of Shuijichi and Luhuaping in Jianyang City. Archaeologists have discovered hundreds of dragon kilns in this area. It was found that the kiln length of the Jian kiln during the Song Dynasty was mostly over 70 meters long, and many kilns were over 100 meters long. Among them, the existing No. 90SJY3 is as long as 135.6 meters, which is the longest known ancient dragon kiln in China and also the longest in the world.

Reproducing the glory

In the early 1980s, technicians from the Jianyang Ceramics Factory, along with experts from the Provincial Light Industry Research Institute and the Provincial Museum, conducted hundreds of experiments and finally succeeded in firing a batch of antique-style Jianzhan with rabbit hair patterns. Experts have identified that these antique-style products not only have similar quality but also resemble the original in shape and spirit, and black porcelain has finally regained its glory. There are currently 18 Jianzhan manufacturers in Jianyang City. Through their arduous exploration, they have produced a series of Jianzhan, including rabbit hair, oil drops, and Yao Bian, restoring the traditional techniques of the Jian kiln series. They have finally restored the lost Jian kiln Jianzhan techniques and brought them back to life, allowing China's treasures to shine once again.


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