- Be mentally prepared for some characteristics that are determined by the craftsmanship of Jianzhan.
The craftsmanship of Jianzhan is quite unique, but in order to achieve the exquisite iron crystal glaze, this type of craftsmanship must be used. This results in the embryo and glaze of Jianzhan not becoming infinitely refined even in modern times, but still retaining the rough and simple character of the Song Dynasty.
Therefore, it is necessary to be mentally prepared for some characteristics that coexist with the craftsmanship of Jianzhan, in order to choose the Jianzhan that you like with a more mature and inclusive attitude. If you only pursue perfectionism, you will be at a loss.
For example, the glaze surface of Jianzhan will not be as smooth and flat as that of celadon and white porcelain, and there will be some small pores, also known as pinholes.
The craftsmanship of Jianzhan determines that pinholes, like dry lips, are present in every Jianzhan, whether it is new or old. If one demands that the glaze surface of Jianzhan be completely smooth based on the standards of other ceramics, then it would be impossible to buy one.
- The issue of deformation.
The craftsmanship of Jianzhan also determines that the deformation rate will be high under high-temperature firing. Manufacturers of newly fired Jianzhan will treat those with obvious deformations as defective products before leaving the factory.
For newly made Jianzhan using hand-pulled clay, some of the rim may be slightly irregular. This is a normal condition in handcrafted products and is present during the clay-making process. It is not a defect and is not easily visible to the naked eye.
For Song Dynasty old Jianzhan, even if they are deformed, they still have collection value or specimen value. However, under similar conditions of other indicators, the value of deformed Jianzhan will definitely be discounted compared to those with regular shapes.
To determine if there is deformation, in addition to observing with the naked eye, you can also invert the Jianzhan on a tabletop. If the rim of the Jianzhan does not fit snugly against the tabletop and is easily shaken, it indicates significant deformation.
- Avoiding some "Jianzhan" that are not real Jianzhan.
If you want to buy an authentic Jianzhan instead of a product that simply has the keyword "Jianzhan" attached to it, but is actually made using other crafting techniques, you need to pay attention to the characteristics of the embryo and glaze of the product you are buying.
The fundamental definition of Jianzhan lies in its embryo and glaze. Tea cups that do not use the Jianzhan crafting technique may still have aesthetic value, but they are already a different type of porcelain and cannot be called Jianzhan.
For example, if you search for "Jianzhan" on a certain online marketplace, you will see many products like the following. Those who are knowledgeable will know that this is not actually Jianzhan, but those who are not familiar with it may be misled. As a writer, I have received similar questions before.
For products that do not use the Jianzhan crafting technique, it is not to say that they are not good. Different crafting techniques do not imply superiority or inferiority. However, it is not right to label them as Jianzhan when they are not. We are not targeting the quality of the product, but the dishonest way of promotion.
In addition, "iron embryo" is a necessary characteristic of Jianzhan. How to distinguish the iron embryo is also a common question for beginners. First of all, a white and delicate embryo bone is obviously not an iron embryo. Whether the embryo bone of other colors is an iron embryo or not depends on the specific situation and requires specific analysis.
In terms of shape, innovation is possible. Products such as egg cups and fairness cups, although not produced by the Song Dynasty Jian kiln, can still be considered as Jianzhan as long as the embryo and glaze are made using the Jianzhan crafting technique. Even if the foot ring and glaze line are slightly different from those of Song Dynasty Jianzhan, they are still Jianzhan.
"Exposed embryo" is a common characteristic of Jianzhan, but not a necessary one. With modern technology and craftsmanship, it is possible to fire fully glazed Jianzhan, which are also considered as Jianzhan. Moreover, achieving a non-stick kiln for fully glazed Jianzhan is quite challenging and such pieces are often highly valued.