White-glazed wares inscribed with the character guan (official) or the characters xin guan (new official), have been recovered from datable tombs ranging from the Tang dynasty (618-907) through the Song period. The earliest site that brought to light inscribed vessels is the tomb of the high official Qian Kuan (d. 895), in Lin’an county, Zhejiang province, while other wares inscribed with this character have been discovered from sites in Beijing, Liaoning and Hebei province, dated between 958 and 1031 (Ding ci yishu/ The Art of Ding Porcelain, Shijiazhuang, 2002, pp 164-169). While in this period kilns working for the court were neither strictly controlled, nor restricted to cater solely for imperial use, from the middle of the Tang dynasty through the Five Dynasties period (907-960), court officials were sent to supervise porcelain production and taxation at the Ding kilns (Decorated Porcelain of Dingzhou, National Palace Museum, Taipei, 2014, p. 19).
A vase of similar form and also incised with the guan character, but lacking the raised strings on the shoulders and attributed to the Liao dynasty, in the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, is illustrated in Sekai tōji zenshū/ Ceramic Art of the World, vol. 12, Tokyo, 1977, col. pl. 1, together with a vase in the Boston Museum of Fine Arts, fig. 22, and another, unearthed from a princely tomb in Dayingzi, Chifeng, Inner Mongolia, fig. 21; one unearthed from a Liao dynasty tomb in Zhuluke, Jianping, Liaoning province, is illustrated in Kaogu/ Archaeology, 1960, no. 2, pl. 3:2; and two were sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, the first, 29th September 1992, lot 451, and the second, 1st May 1995, lot 635.
Compare also a smaller Dingyao vase of related form, but the neck with raised ribs, in the Seattle Art Museum, included in the exhibition Ceramics in the Liao Dynasty, China Institute in America, New York, 1973, cat. no. 35; and another sold at Christie’s Hong Kong, 1st June 2016, lot 3110.
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