Chinese Art Online, including Song Ceramics from the Kai-Yin Lo Collection
中國藝術品網拍包括羅啟妍珍藏宋朝瓷器
Online Auction: 19–26 August 2021 • 10:00 AM HKT • Hong Kong | 網上拍賣:2021年8月19-26日 • 上午 10:00 HKT • 香港

Chinese Art Online, including Song Ceramics from the Kai-Yin Lo Collection 19–26 August 2021 • 10:00 AM HKT • Hong Kong

Kai-Yin Lo’s White Wares

Regina Krahl

W hen in 1998 Kai-Yin Lo mounted an exhibition of her Chinese white wares entitled Bright as Silver, White as Snow at the Denver Art Museum, it was meant to be more than a showcase of a collector’s treasures. It was meant to celebrate something unique to China’s potters: the ability to create vessels of a pristine white out of earth. In the exhibition catalogue I started my essay by saying “The wish to create a ceramic ware that is white may well be as old as ceramics themselves”, but for lack of any proof had to tone down this bold statement in the following, since no proper white wares had been recovered from the Neolithic. In the meantime, archaeology has supported this claim.

Pure white pottery could for some time already be traced back to the 3rd millennium BC, when the Dawenkou and Longshan cultures of the Shandong peninsula produced exquisite vessels in a range of distinctive shapes; but more recently, the appearance of white earthenwares was pushed back even further, as an early site of the Gaomiao culture in Hunan, dating from the 6th millennium BC, yielded large quantities of white fragments decorated with complex pricked and incised geometric and representational motifs. White ware production is equally documented for the Bronze Age, and the circumstances of these various discoveries suggest that early white wares were prestigious treasures, held in high regard and possibly reserved for ritual functions.

Through the application of higher firing temperatures around the 5th/6th century AD it became possible to turn white ceramics from wondrous items of reverence into truly serviceable receptacles. Workmanship rapidly improved to provide an output of reliable quality as more and more kilns competed in specializing in white stoneware. While the local clientele quickly got used to this luxury that only China could provide, the beauty paired with practicality of her white wares continued to amaze foreigners for centuries to come.

The pieces offered here from the Kai-Yin Lo collection beautifully demonstrate the many different aspects this type of ware could adopt, depending on different raw materials, fuels and firing methods. The soft, warm tints of white produced in the north, fired with coal, where the Ding kilns of Quyang in Hebei provided the frame of reference, starkly contrast with the icy bluish tones of the south, created with wood firing, where Jingdezhen in Jiangxi reached outstanding excellence. Among them are true masterpieces of ceramic art, and it is only due to the exuberant production quantities during and around the Song dynasty (960-1279), that they are still so affordable.

Kai-Yin Lo with her collection on view at Denver Art Museum, 1998 羅啟妍女士與其珍藏宋瓷展品,攝於美國丹佛美術館,1998年

羅啟妍珍藏白瓷

康蕊君

一九九八年,美國丹佛美術館舉辦的《如銀似雪:中國晚唐至元代白瓷賞析》展覽不僅展示羅啟妍女士豐富的陶瓷藏品,更成功把中國白瓷藝匠的鬼斧神工表露無遺。筆者在前述展覽目錄中大膽以「自有陶瓷器以來,人們一直都希望能夠燒製純白的器物」開首,但由於缺乏新石器時代證據,不得不緩和説法。然而,隨著近年的考古發掘,填補了早期白陶歷史的缺口。

純白陶器早可追溯到公元前三至二千年,當時山東半島大汶口和龍山文化所製白陶雅致,器形不一。然而,隨近年湖南高廟遺址的白陶碎片出土,把純白陶器出現的年代上推至公元前六千年,當中甚至已經刻有錯綜複雜的花紋,也有以幾何圖案或符號作飾者。到了青銅時代,也有白陶製作的證據,觀其出土情況,可悉它們當時被視爲瑰寶,備受敬重,或為儀典供器。

公元五至六世紀,隨著窰火溫度的提升、工藝的日趨成熟,以及專製白陶窰場的增加,白陶品質精益求精,美觀且實用,不止為中國專屬,更令外國人嘆爲觀止。

是次羅女士專場所呈藏品種類豐富,充分展示白色陶瓷的多樣性,呈現不同胎土、燃料及燒製方法的變化。北方盛產溫潤柔美的白瓷,主要用煤炭於湖北曲陽定窰燒製,而南方出產的釉色色澤則偏冰藍,多以木柴為燃料,其中以江西景德鎮窰最爲著名。有宋一朝,白瓷乃為大宗,產量甚豐,是以讓這些精湛綺麗的作品不至價格高昂、遙不可及。

Qingbai Porcelain青白瓷

Various Kilns各窰白瓷

Bronzes青銅器

Western Zhou Dynasty Ritual Bronzes 西周青銅器

Eastern Zhou Dynasty Ritual Bronzes 東周青銅器

Tang Sancai Ceramics唐代三彩

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