A small persimmon-glazed stoneware alms-bowl-shaped washer

北宋  柿紅釉缽式洗

The washer is finely potted with low rounded sides incurved towards the rim. A bright persimmon-coloured glaze, showing a matt bloom in places, covers the interior of the washer and falls in an uneven line on the exterior, revealing the fine grained very pale ware of the lower part of the body and the flat base.

The alms-bowl form originated in China around the sixth century and retained its popularity over many centuries. Early versions, which included examples made in materials other than ceramic, such as bronze or lacquer, were used as monks’ begging bowls or offering bowls, but by the Song dynasty the form had been incorporated into the general repertory. The rounded shape with incurved rim, suggesting a pair of cupped hands, lends the shape an appealing air, and was eminently suitable for use as a washer for ink-laden brushes. The present example, additionally, has a rare ‘persimmon’ glaze, best known from the rare variants of wares made at the Ding and Yaozhou kilns. Indeed, it is possible that it is the product of the Ding kilns, though other northern kilns, like Dangyangyu, must be considered as candidates.

For a larger but incomplete example of a persimmon-glazed alms-bowl shaped vessel, excavated from the Dangyangyu kiln site in 2004 and now in the Henan Provincial Cultural Institute, see 中国古瓷窑大系中国当阳峪窑 “Series of China's Ancient Porcelain Kiln Sites: Dangyangyu Kiln of China”, p.40, no. 34. 

Dimensions: Diameter: 8.4 cm, 3⅜ inches

Date: Northern Song dynasty (960-1127)

Stock No. 2233

Price: On Request