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Chinese Bronzes of the Shang and Zhou Periods
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China, Jiangxi Province; Ming period (1368-1644), mid- to late 15th century (probably Chenghua era 1465 - 1487)
Porcelain with copper-red glaze (Jingdezhen ware)
H. 1 3/8 in. (3.5 cm); D. 6 1/2 in. (16.5 cm)
Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection of Asian Art
The bright red of this small monochrome dish employs a technology developed during the earlier Xuande era (1426 - 1435). The red color of the glaze, often called "sacrificial red" (jihong), was achieved by mixing a finely ground copper oxide into the glaze and by firing the porcelain so as to fix the color. Because copper red was so difficult to fire, the creation of a beautiful monochrome glaze was a major advance. The red glaze of Chenghua period (1465 - 1487) examples such as this piece are blacker than the strong red found in Xuande examples, suggesting that the precise technology had somehow been lost. It is believed that ceramics covered with this glaze were used as ceremonial wares during the Xuande era. Red was the banner color for the Ming family, possibly chosen because the imperial Ming family surname, Zhu, can be translated as "red."
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