Black ceramics: Somber glazes that draw serious gazes

(chinadaily.com.cn) Updated : 2020-10-15


Black glazed censer, Deqing ware, Eastern Jin Dynasty (317-420), the Zhejiang Provincial Museum collection [Photo/zjmuex.com]

Throughout the near 2,000-year history of Chinese ceramics, the black glazed ceramics, though solemn and regal, have not dazzled like their peers. However, they serve as an essential part of this ancient and glorious industry with a profound inside story and aesthetic connotations. 

Deqing county is located in the northern part of East China's Zhejiang province, with a landscape and natural resources which make it suitable for ceramic manufacturing.

The Deqing Kiln complex was built during the late Eastern Han Dynasty (25-220) and declined around the ninth century. The fourth and fifth centuries witnessed the flourishing of the Deqing Kiln, when black glazed products made up 20 percent of the entire output. Enjoying huge popularity, they were decorated either with a pure black color or motifs including bamboo, lotuses, dragons and birds. Meanwhile, they were made into various shapes, such as kettles, lamps, pots, ink slabs and censers, which are all now of research value.

The most famous black glazed ceramics might be from the late Tang Dynasty (618-907). Their practicable manufacturing method made them popular among numerous ceramics bases. They also featured an attractive and time-saving decorative style that crafted distinct motifs through the black glaze.


Black glazed chicken-head-spout kettle, Deqing ware, Southern Dynasty (420-589), the Zhejiang Provincial Museum collection [Photo/zjmuex.com]