Chinese Longquan Celadon
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Longquan, a famous historical and cultural city which is noted for its celadon, is located in the southwest of Zhejiang province, and it’s bounded on Jiangxi and Fujian. According to the Archaeological Survey, more than 500 ancient kiln sites of Longquan Celadon have been found, more than 360 of which are situated within Longquan City to form a huge ceramic kiln system, the Longquan Kilns of Chinese history.
Longquan kiln enjoys the longest time of sintering in history, the vastest distribution, and the highest quality, the largest scale of production and the biggest market of exporting among all famous celadon kilns.
Longquan kiln dates from the West Jin Dynasty and began to take shape in the Northern Song Dynasty period. It came to its golden age in the Middle and Late time of the Southern Song Dynasty period, and the technique reached its peak of perfection. Fen ching (lavender grey) and meizi ching (plum green) became trademark celadon glazing colors. Ge kiln was one of the Five Famed Kilns of Song Dynasty along with the Guan, Ru, Ding and Jun kilns. The celadon technique of Longquan Kiln promoted the development of kilns in other places. From Sothern Song Dynasty period to the Ming Dynasty period, kilns in Fujian, coastal areas of Guangdong and Jiangxi regions made products similar to Longquan celadon.
Celadon of Longquan kiln has important influence at home and abroad. They were largely exported in Song and Yuan periods. Chen Qiaoyi says in Toponymy of Longquan County: “From the ports in the southeast of China to Persian Gulf, Arabian Sea, Red Sea and coast line of East Africa… you can see the traces of Longquan Celadon everywhere.” Long Celadon reached its peak in Song and Yuan periods. Although the scale of production didn’t narrow in Ming Dynasty, the quality declined. It began to ebb in Qing Dynasty, and even stopped in the late time, leaving only few kilns modeling after the antique. The history of Longquan Celadon can be divided into 3 periods: 1. from the Five Dynasties to the early Northern Song period; 2. from the late Northern Song period to the Southern Song period; 3. Yuan Dinasty and Ming Dynasty periods.
Longquan Celadon can be classified into two categories traditionally: Geyao and Diyao. The story of Geyao and Diyao came from the record from Ming Dynasty period: “The Zhang Brothers living in Longquan County are good at ceramics-making. The ceramics made by the younger brother is called Diyao while that by the elder brother is called Geyao. There’s no evidence for us to prove the presence of the two brothers. However, it did create two ways of ceramics-making in Longquan kilns. Geyao (elder brother kiln) had a black clay body with a purple rim and iron brown bottom. The sparkling and crystal-clear glaze of Geyao celadon made it look like jade or ice. Ge kiln was one of the Five Famed Kilns of the Song Dynasty along with the Guan, Ru, Ding and Jun kilns. This kind of products becomes outstanding for the shape, glazing color and crackling. The crackling is difficult to control by human and it forms by nature, applying for the aesthetic interest of natural and simple antique flavors. Diyao (younger brother kiln) features thick, white clay pieces covered in a bluish glaze that gives them a glittering and translucent appearance and moist texture. Fen ching (lavender grey) and meizi ching (plum green) are the best celadon glazing colors and below them is dou ching (bean green). The green glazing color is collocated with orange footing or Lutai patterns, presenting a pleasant look. Works with Lutai patterns appear abundantly in the middle and late Southern Song period, especially in Yuan period. Decorates such as faces, hands, foots of portraits, clouds, dragons, flowers in the bottom of artifacts are quite unique.