Porcelain Bowls with Grass-blade Pattern of Changsha Kiln

Among numerous porcelains of Changsha Kiln, there are two delicate porcelain bowls, which especially draw people's attentions. Though they have passed about one thousand years, they are still well preserved and are dazzlingly brilliant. The shape of two bowls is almost the same, with spreading mouth, shallow belly and ring foot. And their surfaces are applied with celadon. In decoration, two bowls also have some in common: curled grass-blade pattern is painted with several strokes. One celadon Porcelain Bowl is with Frass-blade Pattern in Brown Color. It is painted with single brown color and its mouth edge is decorated with four brown spots. The other is a Celadon Porcelain Bowl with Frass-blade Pattern in Brown and Green Color, which the grass-blade pattern is painted with two colors of brown and green. According to experts from Changsha Museum, what used in the two porcelain bowls is colored painting method. This method of decorating porcelains with paintings was created by Changsha Kiln. Experts say that the grass-blade pattern on the bowls is under-glazed colored painting. It means to paint patterns on porcelain body firstly, secondly, apply a layer of celadon on the porcelain body, then fire in it in a kiln. This technique of under-glazed colored painting was first used by Changsha Kiln. It can be said that the two porcelain bowls are not only the exquisite products of Changsha Kiln. They also represent the highest firing level of Chinese Tang Dynasty. Thus, they have high artistic value and historical value.

Talking about the two porcelain bowls of Changsha Kiln, behind them, there is a tortuous experience. As early as in Chinese Tang Dynasty, the two bowls were loaded on a cargo ship together with other porcelains to ship overseas. It was unfortunate the ship sank in sea area of Southeast Asia. It was not until about one thousand years later that the sunken ship was discovered.

The one who discovered the sunken ship of Chinese Tang Dynasty was a German, named Walterfang. He was originally the owner of a cement plant. One day, Walterfang heard from an Indonesian worker that in sea areas between Indonesian Borneo Island and Sumatra Island there were many ancient sunken ships which were full of treasures. Thus, Walterfang had the deal of hunting for these treasures. In 1996, taking workers and diving equipment with him, Walterfang came to that sea area and began hunting for treasure. After two years, Walterfang found a sunken ship of Chinese Tang Dynasty at the sea floor less than two nautical miles away from Indonesia Belitung Island. Not far away from the wreck site, there was a big black reef.  People presume this wooden ship of Chinese Tang Dynasty sank because of hitting this reef. So, this sunken ship was named "Black Stone". In 2001, "Black Stone" was salvaged out of water. Most of the porcelains on this sunken ship were bought by a Singapore company. Only a few of them were spread out and became target of collectors all over the world. Experts introduces that there was a porcelain bowl made in Changsha Kiln on the "Black Stone". This bowl had a mark of Baoli Period of Emperor Jingzong of Tang Dynasty. It was fired around 826 A.D. Combining with research of other porcelains, experts thought the sailing date of "Black Stone" was the first half of 9th century A.D. "Black Stone" was a trade ship. What it conveyed was Chinese porcelain to be sold overseas. The wreck site was located in the sea area of "Marine Silk Road" where most ships sank. In Chinese Tang Dynasty, from coastal cities to West Asia, Africa and Europe, there was a marine channel transporting Chinese silk, which was called "Marine Silk Road." Furthermore, this channel was also used for transporting lots of Chinese porcelains and thus it was also called "Marine Porcelain Road". Changsha Kiln located at Changsha, Hunan Province. It is in the inland area of China. Then these porcelains to be sold overseas should be taken out of nation after being transferred several times by waterway.

Changsha Kiln was a folk kiln appearing in Tang Dynasty. It was this emerging kiln that once became the Chinese kiln that exported the most porcelain products. Then, how did Changsha Kiln develop?

According to experts, in 755 A.D., the "An Shi Rebellion" of Tang Dynasty took place. That made the Central Plains area in a mess. Thus, lots of porcelain craftsmen of Henan province moved to the south. Among them, some craftsmen came to Hunan Province.  Finally, they chose Changsha where water transportation was convenient and raw materials of porcelain were plenty as their residency and began making porcelain there. The porcelain production in China at that time had formed the structure of Zhejiang Yue Kile in the south and Hebei XingKile in the north. In Tang Dynasty, there was a saying of "green in the south and white in the north". Changsha Kiln faced some difficulties in development. Craftsmen of Changsha Kiln focused on the tremendous demand for Chinese porcelains in international market and actively produced porcelains types which catered to the taste of foreigners. Additionally, Changsha Kiln is close to Xiangjiang River, with an advantage of mass transit of porcelains. Two reasons above expanded the international market accessibility for porcelain products of Changsha Kiln quickly.

Experts say that from these porcelains for export sales, we can see the shape and ornament of porcelain products of Changsha Kiln are characterized by distinct foreign culture.

According to experts, the decoration color on the Porcelain Bowl with Grass-blade Pattern in Brown and Green Color of Changsha Kiln is full of West Asian features, while the four brown spots on the mouth edge of another Porcelain Bowl with Grass-blade Pattern in Brown Color also possess the features of porcelain for export sales. On porcelains of Changsha Kiln the method of decoration of linking bead pattern was widely used. By alternating use of brown color and green color, craftsmen drew various patterns. In many museums that have collected porcelains of Changsha Kiln, the porcelain karts decorated with brown and green linking bead pattern can be found. Moreover, porcelains of Changsha Kiln had also borrowed the shape of gold and silver wares in areas of West Aria and Central Asia.

Yue Kiln, Xing Kiln and Changsha Kiln are called the "three carriages" of porcelain for export sales in Tang Dynasty. But Changsha Kiln was the only kiln which actively engaged in export operation. It took an indulgent attitude to absorb foreign culture and continuously fired marketable porcelain types. Thus porcelain products of Changsha Kiln were sold all over the world.

The two porcelain bowls with grass-blade pattern of Changsha Kiln, salvaged from the sunken ship of "Black Stone", were bought overseas by a Chinese fan of porcelain collection. The fan donated them to Changsha Municipal Museum. Nowadays, the two porcelain bowls fired in Tang Dynasty are temporarily stored in the warehouse of the museum. They shall be exhibited after relevant exhibition hall is built.

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