Bowl with incised decoration

  • Stoneware with celadon glaze
  • 7.1 x 16.9 cm
  • Tongan-type ware
  • mid 12th-early 13th century, Southern Song dynasty
  • Origin: Tongan-related kilns, Fujian province, China
  • Gift of Osborne and Gratia Hauge, and Victor and Takako Hauge
  • S2005.23


Tongan-type ware. Bowl with rounded sides, upright mouthrim and carved footring.
Clay: buff stoneware.
Glaze: yellowish green, glossy, transparent, crazed; foot and base unglazed but with remnants of brown glaze on the base.
Decoration: freely incised sprays and combed zigzag design on the cavetto, an incised ring below the neck, a circle impressed on the medallion; on the exterior, combed vertical lines radiating from the foot.

Curatorial Remarks

1. (Candy Chan, Research Assistant, June 10, 2003) Bowls of this type were used as tea bowls in Japan, but as rice bowls in China. Same vessel type but was used differently in different culture or countries. Since this bowl was found in Southeast Asia, it was probably used to hold different cuisine.

Bowls of this type are known in Japan as Juko celadon (Juko seiji). Murata Juko (1422–1502), a Kyoto monk, is revered as the founder of the tea ceremony and a tea master. (The role of the great tea master was to discover and establish new possibilities for utensil types). He was also a tastemaker for the selection of tea utensils and the first one to popularize the roughly-potted celadon bowls made in Fujian province, with distinctive brusque combing and a yellowish green glaze (Cort 2000, 110).

Bowls of this type dated to Southern Song to Yuan periods (12th–13th century) were excavated in kilns in Tongan County, Fujian province, South China. The discovery of the Tongan kiln site resolved the provenance of the so-called "Juko celadon" in Japan. Even though bowls, saucer and basin were found in Tongan kilns, bowls were the major finds. The glaze is thinly applied, transparent and glassy; the color varies from yellowish green (majority) to green or grayish green. For bowls, a ring is impressed at the interior bottom, with or without decoration. Some bowls have a stamped fish or chrysanthemum design encircled by an unglazed ring on the medallion. The decoration can be incised, carved or impressed inside and/or outside (Li 1974, 80–84).

Celadon bowls of this type with zigzag combed decoration inside and combed vertical lines outside, usually covered with yellowish green glaze, were the major vessel type excavated at the Dingxi kiln in Tongan County, Fujian province, South China in 1974. Similar ware types were also produced in other southeast coastal regions of Fujian province such as Nanan, Putian, and Xiamen, as well as Wuyi in Zhejiang province. The production began in the Southern Song dynasty (1127–1279) and ended in the Yuan dynasty (1279–1368), (Xijing and Zhiwen 1990, 21–26).

Lin and Zhang refer to the Tongan kiln type celadon wares as "Juko celadon," which is named under the Japanese tea master, Murata Juko (1422–1502). Since the discovery of the Tongan kilns in 1956 and, later on, other kiln sites in Fujian producing similar celadon wares, the term "Tongan kiln type celadon" appeared parallel with "Juko celadon" or even became more commonly used by scholars. Lin and Zhang note that the Tongan kiln complex covers 25 kilns that are spread around 15 counties in Fujian province (Lin and Zhang 1990, 391–397).

The name Tongan-type wares was used by Valdes to describe both celadon and qingbai wares made in Tongan, Nanan, Putian, Lianjiang, Anxi and Quanzhou, all along the southern coast of Fujian province. Tongan-type wares found in Butuan in Mindanao, Philippines were mostly bowls and dishes. Valdes dates the Tongan-type wares to 12th-14th century (Valdes 1991, 33–42, pl. 4.1–4.12).

Bowl sherds of this type were found in Tanjong Batu, Brunei, and were dated to the Song dynasty (960–1279). Only a few are plain; most of them were decorated with combed and incised decoration (Shariffuddin and Omar 1979, 65–71, pl. 1).

Fragments of Tongan kiln type ware were unearthed from the kiln sites of the Song and Yuan periods in Tongan kilns, Nanan, Putian and Lianjiang, Fujian province. Feng mentions that these kilns produced wares mainly for export markets in East and Southeast Asia. They were rarely distributed in China (Feng 1981, 15–20, pls. 130–152 and 176–193).

Sherds of Tongan-type ware were unearthed in Penghu (Pescadores Islands). The major finds were celadon or qingbai bowls or dishes with stamped design on the interior center, and with combed and/or incised decoration (Chen 1985, 79–99).

For further information about the excavation of Tongan-type celadon wares, see Kamei 1995.

Cort, Louise Allison. 2000. Shigaraki, Potters' Valley. New York and Tokyo: Weatherhill.  

Li Huiping. 1974. "Fujiansheng Tong'anyao diaocha jilue (Reconnaissance at the Site of the Porcelain Kiln in T'ung-an County, Fujian Province)." Wenwu (Cultural Relics) 11: 80–84.

Li Xijing, and Li Zhiwen. 1990. "Jukō seiji (kuchime gakamon seiji) ni tsuite no kenkyū sensetsu (Juko Celadon—decorated with carved scrolls and scratched lines)." Bōeki Tōji Kenkyū [Trade Ceramics Studies] 2: 21–26 (Japanese), 21 (English summary).

Lin Zhonggan, and Zhang Wenyin. 1990. "Tongan yaoxi qingci di chubu yanjiu [Initial studies on celadon from Tongan kiln]." Dongnan Wenhua (Culture of Southeast China) 5: 391–397.

Valdes, Cynthia O. 1991. "The Ceramics of Guangdong and Fujian in the Philippine Milieu". Pp. 33–42 in Chinese and Southeast Asian Greenware found in the Philippines. Manila: The Oriental Society of the Philippines.

Shariffuddin, Dato P. M., and M. Omar. 1979. "Distribution of Chinese and Siamese Ceramics in Brunei". Pp. 65–71 in Chinese Celadons and Other Related Wares in Southeast Asia. Singapore: Southeast Asian Ceramic Society and Singapore National Museum.   

Feng Xianming. 1981. "Archaeological Research on Chinese Ceramics". Pp. 15–20 in Exhibition of Ceramic Finds from Ancient Kilns in China. Hong Kong: Fung Ping Shan Museum, University of Hong Kong.   

Chen Hsin-hsiung. 1985. Penghu Song Yuan taoci (Shards of the Sung and Yuan Period Found in the Pescadores Islands). Taiwan: Penghu xianli wenhua zhongxin (Penghu County Cultural Center).  

Kamei Meitoku. 1995. Fukken-shō koyōseki shutsudo tōjiki no kenkyū [Research on historical kiln sites in Fujian province]. Tokyo: Tōhoku Insatsu Shuppan.  

2. (Louise Cort, 12 October 2005) According to archaeologist and ceramic specialist Morimoto Asako, Fukuoka, the bowls S2005.23, 24, and 25 all come from the same kiln in Fujian province and date to the second half of the 12th century or beginning of the 13th century. Although this type is termed Tongan-type ware, the kiln was probably located further south than Tongan. Despite the ambiguous pale glaze and the incised decoration that also appears on qingbai-type bowls, these bowls are "celadon" by intention, judging from the cut of the foot.

This bowl in particular is close to Tongan ware, but it is not the same as the bowls found in Japan and termed "Juko celadon" ware—the clay is different and the foot is narrower and taller. Presumably it was made at a different and probably more southerly kiln (and therefore was exported from a different port or at least to a different overseas destination).

Recent archaeology has determined that the Tongan kilns were not the source of the bowls known in Japan as "Juko seiji." The reported source is Tingxiyao.

3. (Louise Cort, 22 December 2005) Changed Period from Southern Song or Yuan dynasty to Southern Song dynasty. Changed Date from 12th–14th century to mid 12th–early 13th century. To Style added Tongan-type ware.

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