Tenmoku tea bowls are a case apart among Song dynasty ceramics. No other kiln centre besides that of Jianyang in Fujian, which produced these black bowls, was bold enough to limit its output to one single product. Other kilns, even if they specialized in one type of ceramic, all produced a large variety of wares, in different qualities and shapes, for different clients and functions. To concentrate on the manufacture of black tea bowls reflects the strong demand for and immense popularity of these wares.
Black wares from Fujian are mentioned and recommended as tea bowls in poems and essays since the early Northern Song period (960-1127), by scholars, see Feng Xianming, Zhongguo gu taoci wenxian jishi (Annotated Collection of Historical Documents on Ancient Chinese Ceramics), Taipei, 2000, p. 124, and Robert D. Mowry, Hare’s Fur, Tortoiseshell, and Partridge Feathers, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge Mass., 1996, p. 30.
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