Late 16th - 17th century
Tianqi - Wanli period, Ming Dynasty
Porcelain with copper red glaze
H: 15.5 cm
Minor surface scratches, footrim has three firing cracks/flaws, but otherwise very good.
From a Greenwich, Connecticut collection
Chinese potters have been experimenting with copper glazes since the Tang dynasty. When fired in a reduction atmosphere (late in the firing potters would throw wet wood into the kiln to reduce the amount of oxygen present), copper-infused glazes left the kiln red. However, due to the technical difficulty of this process, copper red glazes did not fully mature until the Ming dynasty. It was very popular throughout this dynasty, enjoyed new heights in the Yongle and Xuande reigns, and continued to be made well into the 17th century.
This particular vase was produced in the closing decades of the Ming dynasty. It is marked with a rough "da ming nian zhi" (made in the great Ming dynasty) written in a writing style very reminiscent of Tianqi period minyao marks. The glaze is several shades richer and darker than Qing dynasty jihong pieces, and does not drift past the foot rim. Its thick, bubbly texture is very similar to a late Ming copper red wine cup in the British Museum (1948,1019.12). Additionally, the vase is sturdily potted and weighty in the hand.