Special Presentation – Northern Song Celadon Dragon Bowl 【中英文版】

北宋 御窯 青瓷龍紋碗 | Northern Song, Celadon Dragon Bowl

Gone are the apricot blooms,
Touch of pink remains,
Young verdant green fruits still tiny.
Swallows dart gracefully over fields,
Jade green river winding down cottages.
With wind in the willow,
The catkins wave away.
Sweet scented green grass adorns,
However remote corner.

This beautiful poem written by the famous Song dynasty poet Su Shi vividly described a vibrant scene of early Spring. The word green is emphatically clear in the poem – green apricot fruits, green river, green willow trees and green grass. Such poetic depictions are often times the visual themes of the fabulous blue-green landscape paintings popular in the Tang and Song era.

北宋 王希孟 千里江山图 | Northern Song, Wang Xi-meng, A Thousand Miles of Mountains and Rivers

Marvelous verdant green mountains, with jade green river flowing through, and a bright moon rising above – on a deeper level, the aesthetics of beautiful classic Chinese romanticism paintings such as this one carried Taoist ideals – nature and man co-existing harmoniously together.

Taoist aesthetics played an important role throughout Chinese art history.

“Be natural, nobody can compete with a natural beauty”, Taoist master Chuang Tzu said. Simplistic styles were therefore highly valued, and naturalistic colors were greatly favored. The epitome of Taoist ideals would be the pursuit of harmony between man and nature.

Beautiful shades of green could also be found in the ceramic art of the same period. The Tang Dynasty poet Lu Guimeng was so impressed by what he had seen in the famous “Secret Formula” Yue Yao celadon wares, he wrote a poem exalting the fantastic forest green glaze. A group of these famous ceramic works were discovered at the Dharma Temple in Xi’an, an eight-lobed water vessel is shown below:

法门寺 唐 秘色八棱净水瓶 | Dharma Temple in Xi’an, Tang Dynasty, Celadon Eight-lobed Water Vessel

The Yue Yao green glaze was also praised in another poem from the Five Dynasties: “Delicate as the Moon’s reflection on a Spring river, and light as green tinted clouds touching a layer of thin ice.”

Taoist aesthetics played an important role in the creation of Song Dynasty’s imperial commissioned ceramic wares, i.e. Ru Yao, Guan Yao.  These Song Dynasty imperial kilns excelled at making blue and green glaze ceramic wares, which had mystic jade like textures, enchanting colors and simplistic styles.

Lao Tzu taught in Tao Te Ching that “a sage might dress in rags, but his heart and soul are as pure and noble as that of jade”. Green jade was also viewed as a protector from evil spirits and a defender of health throughout Chinese history.

The pursuit of jade green texture and resemblance, the painterly effects of Spring rivers, the romanticization and respect of nature and the natural, the poetic sensibility and creativity, technical innovations and breakthroughs, all came together and made Song Dynasty imperial ceramics unmatched in world art history.

北宋 御窑青瓷龙纹碗 | Northern Song, Celadon Dragon Bowl

This extremely rare Northern Song celadon dragon bowl has an exquisite body shape, elegant and light in weight. The soft green glaze was evenly applied on the outside of the bowl and inside of the foot rim as well, leaving the inside in transparent glaze. The cup’s beautiful jade green glaze is reminiscent of nature’s lush greens.

A pair of dragons chasing the flaming pearl were masterfully incised on the outside surface of the bowl.  The five-clawed dragon motif indicated this bowl was exclusively made for the emperor. In Chinese history and tradition, the five-clawed dragon motif was reserved only for the emperor, the rest of the imperial court and high officials would use four-clawed dragon motif instead.

The dragons came vigorously and fiercely alive – in the midst of heavenly green peaks and mystic Spring rivers, with their lightning speed and motion, thundering power and passion.

Notes:

Tang Dynasty (618-907 A.D.)

Five Dynasties (907 – 960 A.D.)

Northern Song Dynasty (960 – 1127 A.D.)

Su Shi (1037 – 1101 A.D.)

Zhuangzi (370 – 287 B.C.)

Laozi ( ? – 533 B.C.)

 

 

「特别推介」千峰翠色 – 北宋御窑青瓷龙纹碗

 花褪残红青杏小。
 燕子飞时,绿水人家绕。
 枝上柳绵吹又少。
 天涯何处无芳草。

苏轼这首优美的诗歌生动地为我们描绘了一幅春意盎然的景象:青杏、绿水、柳枝、芳草,好一幅自然生动的青绿山水画!正所谓“绿水青山,一轮明月林梢过”,青绿山水画、金碧山水画成就了唐宋绘画艺术至今无可匹敌的历史地位。

北宋 王希孟 千里江山图

这种审美意识不仅仅表现在唐宋绘画上,更处处体现在同一时期瓷器工艺的千峰翠色,若明月春水的诗情画意里。唐代诗人陆龟蒙形容唐代越窑秘色瓷具有“夺得千峰翠色来”的强烈艺术感染力,更有五代诗喻其“巧剜明月染春水,轻旋薄冰盛绿云”。

法门寺 唐 秘色八棱净水瓶

色青如玉,晶莹润泽。宛若一泓春水,碧波荡漾,柔情万千。如一轮皓月,清雅明亮。宋代的青瓷更是巧夺天工,美轮美奂。

中国人自古尚青,青色,冲和、恬淡、宁静、自然、质朴,庄子云 “朴素而天下莫能与之争美”。天人一源,物我一类,形神一统,青色恰恰符合中国人追求推崇的宁静致远,天人合一,意蕴幽远的人生境界。

青如玉,是谓“妙造自然”。老子的道德经提过“圣人被褐怀玉”,就将玉的清明比作圣人高尚的心智和品格。

北宋 御窑青瓷龙纹碗

此件青瓷龙纹碗,造型玲珑精巧,胎壁薄匀,精美端庄。碗内平素,碗底无款。釉面莹润柔和,如冰似玉,呈色纯正自然,青翠欲滴。

碗壁刻有双龙戏珠图案,罕见的五爪龙纹,刻工精湛,栩栩如生,将龙的威猛矫健酣畅淋漓地表现出来。只见千峰翠色间万顷碧波上忽现神龙腾飞,巧夺天工,令人叹为观止。