The humble appearances of these tea bowls made them appropriate for use in Buddhist temples, and they were held in great esteem in the Song dynasty (960-1279). Dramatically contrasting to the white foam of whipped tea, bowls enveloped in this lustrous black glaze were greatly appreciated and soon gained popularity beyond the monastic circles. Emperor Huizong (r. 1101-25), well known for his love for tea, stated that the black-glazed tea bowls, especially those decorated with ‘hare’s fur’ like the present example, were the most desirable.
Among these ‘hare’s fur’ wares, conical bowls such as the present example are rarer than the classic type with incurved rims from the time of manufacture; only about one fifth of the Jian tea bowls unearthed from Luhuaping in 1960 were conical bowls (Robert D. Mowry, Hare's Fur, Tortoiseshell, and Partridge Feathers, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, Massachusetts, 1996, pp. 217-218).
See a similar conical bowl, but of slightly larger size (16.8 cm), from the collection of Mrs Myron S. Falk, Jr, included in the exhibition Hare's Fur, Tortoiseshell, and Partridge Feathers, op.cit., cat. no. 81.
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