The delicate potting and glaze that thins at the rim to reveal the black body with a prominent crackled effect are characteristic of 'ge' wares produced from the Song dynasty into the Yuan period. 'Ge' is a connoisseur's term known only from post-Song texts and does not refer to a production area. It is used for ceramics similar to 'guan' wares but with a more opaque buff glaze as seen on the present washer. The crackle effect is distinctively stained black interspersed with some secondary rust-red or light-brown crackles. Nigel Wood in Chinese Glazes, London, 1999, p. 87, notes that it appears likely that both the 'ge' and the 'guan' wares wares issued simultaneously from the same kilns showing the natural variations of atmosphere, temperature and cooling that the dragon kilns provided.
The present brushwasher in its form continues a Song dynasty vessel type produced at the official (guan) kilns located within the palace walls in the Song capital of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province. It is closely related to a 'guan' washer from the Kempe collection that has been attributed to the Song period. For other examples of 'ge' washers see a smaller mallow-form Song vessel from the collection of Mrs. Alfred Clark sold in our New York rooms twice, 7th December 1983, lot 207, and again, 30th March 2006, lot 30.
A ten-lobed 'ge' washer of similarly large dimensions can be found in the Palace Museum, Beijing, illustrated in Zhongguo taoci quanji, vol. 8, 1999, pl. 9, together with a nine-lobed washer in the same collection, pl. 21.
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