Jian ware tea bowl with metal rim

Historical period(s)
Southern Song dynasty, 12th-13th century
Stoneware with black iron glaze, "hare's fur" texture
Jian ware
H x W: 7.1 x 12.4 cm (2 13/16 x 4 7/8 in)
China, Fujian province, Jianyang country, Jian kilns
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Freer Gallery 07: Mind Over Matter: Zen in Medieval Japan
Ceramic, Vessel

Tea bowl

China, iridescence, Jian ware, Southern Song dynasty (1127 - 1279), stoneware, tea, WWII-era provenance

To 1952
Howard Hollis & Co., Cleveland, Ohio. [1]

From 1952
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Howard Hollis & Co., Cleveland, Ohio. [2]


[1] Curatorial Remark 1 in the object record.

[2] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Howard Hollis and Company


Dark-glazed, dark-bodied bowls from the Jian-ware kilns in northern Fujian Province first entered Japan in the early 13th century, brought back by Japanese Zen monks who had learned the custom of drinking whipped powdered tea during their years of study at Chinese monasteries. Fujian was a center for tea plantations, and the dark, deep-sided, thick-walled bowls from the local kilns were considered without equal for keeping the tea warm after it was prepared directly in the bowl, by whipping a spoonful of powder in boiling water using a bamboo whisk, and for accentuating the fresh green color of the beverage. Japanese called the bowls Temmoku after one of the major monasteries that trained Japanese monks, Tianmushan, in Zhejiang Province. 

The beautiful feathery texture that sometimes developed in the glaze of Temmoku bowls was known as "hare's fur."  Since the iron-rich glaze tended to run, leaving the rim bare, owners often had the rough edge covered with a band of gold, silver, brass, or copper.

Published References
  • Oriental Ceramics: The World's Great Collections. 12 vols., Tokyo. vol. 10, pl. 20.
  • Martin P. Amt, Rob Barnard. In Praise of Feet. vol. 18, no. 2 Shelburne Falls, Massachusetts, June 1990. p. 23.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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