China, Shaanxi Province; Jin period (1115-1234), 12th century
Stoneware with incised design under glaze (Yaozhou ware)
H. 4 1/2 in. (11.4 cm); D. 8 in. (20.3 cm)
Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection of Asian Art
This large bowl that has a date corresponding with the year 1162 inscribed in black ink on an unglazed ring in the bottom of the bowl provides a linchpin for the style of Jin-dynasty Yaozhou wares. Lotus flowers floating on waves decorate the interior of the bowl, while more stylized floral motifs are incised on the exterior. The decoration of both the interior and the exterior suggests that the piece was made to order, most likely for an affluent client as such carving is more difficult or time consuming than decorating only the interior or exterior of a ceramic. In this regard, it is interesting that one of the readings of the inscription suggests that the last character, which is very difficult to make out, may be an owner's or a potter's name.
Inscription: The seven-character inscription has been read by Wang Qingzhea as Dading renwusui zhixia, "container made in the renwu year of Dading." James C.Y. Watt has proposed as possible readings Dading renwusui Zhi or Dading renwusui Gong, in which the last character refers to a name.