China, Henan Province
Northern Song period, 12th century
Stoneware with glaze with suffusions from copper filings (Jun ware)
H. 1 3/4 in. (4.4 cm), D. 3 3/8 in. (8.6 cm); 1979.137

Artist Comments

Brother Thomas
I don't think there is another glaze in the early years of a potter's career that could make him/her more aware of the greatness of the ceramic art than an exquisite sample of Jun (Chün) ware like this one in the Asia Society collection.

And any potter who tries to duplicate this glaze soon realizes how difficult it is to do.

The color is derived from copper, ceramics most protean mineral but also its most fugitive. Since these glazes were regional phenomena they are hard to reproduce elsewhere. Even with our technical ability today to analyze the constituents of these ancient glazes, they remain elusive.

One thing is obvious, there must have been a copper deposit in the region of the Jun ware kilns, as well as other minerals sympathetic to producing copper colors in their glazes. The intriguing purple and red passages found on Jun ware are splashes of copper in some form, perhaps a finely ground copper oxide or carbonate, or a soluble salt of copper. Because copper migrates in a glaze it can wick through the wall of the body while it is in an absorbent state. This accounts for the color found inside this bowl as well as the outside-the copper has migrated through its wall.

How they did these amazing glazes is a technically fascinating subject. But why they did it is the mystery of artistic intuition aided by some fortuitous things like location and some mystical things like genius.