Celadon is a term for pottery denoting both wares glazed in the jade
green celadon color, also known as greenware (the term specialists now
tend to use) and a type of transparent glaze, often with small
cracks, that was first used on greenware, but later used on other
Celadon originated in China, though the term is purely
European, and notable kilns such as the Longquan kiln in Zhejiang
province are renowned for their celadon glazes.
later spread to other regions in Asia, such as Japan, Korea and
Thailand. Eventually European potteries produced some pieces, but it
was never a major element there. Finer pieces are in porcelain, but
both the color and the glaze can be produced in stoneware and
earthenware. Most of the earlier
Longquan celadon is on the border of
stoneware and porcelain, meeting the Chinese but not the European
definitions of porcelain.
For many centuries, celadon wares were highly regarded by the Chinese
Imperial court, before being replaced in fashion by painted wares,
especially the new blue and white porcelain under the Yuan dynasty.
The similarity of the color to jade, traditionally the most highly
valued material in China, was a large part of its attraction. Celadon
continued to be produced in
China at a lower level, often with a
conscious sense of reviving older styles. In
Korea the celadons
produced under the
Goryeo Dynasty (918–1392) are regarded as the
classic wares of Korean porcelain.
The celadon colour is classically produced by firing a glaze
containing a little iron oxide at a high temperature in a reducing
kiln. The materials must be refined, as other chemicals can alter the
color completely. Too little iron oxide causes a blue colour
(sometimes a desired effect), and too much gives olive and finally
black; the right amount is between 0.75% and 2.5%. The presence of
other chemicals may have effects; titanium dioxide gives a yellowish
tinge. Pieces made with a celadon glaze are themselves often
referred to as "celadons."
2 Production and characteristics
3 Chinese celadons
4 Korean celadon
5 Japanese celadon
6 Thai celadon
10 Further reading
11 External links
The term "celadon" for the pottery's pale jade-green glaze was coined
by European connoisseurs of the wares. One theory is that the term
first appeared in
France in the 17th century and that it is named
after the shepherd
Celadon in Honoré d'Urfé's French pastoral
L'Astrée (1627), who wore pale green ribbons. (D'Urfe, in
turn, borrowed his character from Ovid's
Metamorphoses V.210.) Another
theory is that the term is a corruption of the name of
ad-Din), the Ayyubid Sultan, who in 1171 sent forty pieces of the
ceramic to Nur ad-Din Zengi, Sultan of Syria. Yet a third theory is
that the word derives from the
Sanskrit sila and dhara, which mean
"green" and "stone" respectively.
Production and characteristics
Ming shrine, the figure left unglazed in the "biscuit" state
Yaozhou ware bowl with carved and combed decoration, Northern Song
Celadon glaze refers to a family of usually partly transparent but
coloured glazes, many with pronounced (and sometimes accentuated)
"crackle", or tiny cracks in the glaze produced in a wide variety of
colors, generally used on stoneware or porcelain pottery bodies.
So-called "true celadon", which requires a minimum 1,260 °C
(2,300 °F) furnace temperature, a preferred range of 1,285 to
1,305 °C (2,345 to 2,381 °F), and firing in a reducing
atmosphere, originated at the beginning of the
Northern Song Dynasty
(960–1127), at least on one strict definition. The unique grey or
green celadon glaze is a result of iron oxide's transformation from
ferric to ferrous iron (Fe2O3 → FeO) during the firing process.
Individual pieces in a single firing can have significantly different
colours, from small variations in conditions in different parts of the
kiln. Most of the time, green was the desired colour, reminding the
Chinese of jade, always the most valued material in Chinese culture.
Celadon glazes can be produced in a variety of colors, including
white, grey, blue and yellow, depending on several factors:
1) the thickness of the applied glaze,
2) the type of clay to which it is applied,
3) the exact chemical makeup of the glaze,
4) the firing temperature
5) the degree of reduction in the kiln atmosphere and
6) the degree of opacity in the glaze.
The most famous and desired shades range from a very pale green to
deep intense green, often meaning to mimic the green shades of jade.
The main color effect is produced by iron oxide in the glaze recipe or
clay body. Celadons are almost exclusively fired in a reducing
atmosphere kiln as the chemical changes in the iron oxide which
accompany depriving it of free oxygen are what produce the desired
colors. As with most glazes, crazing (a glaze defect) can occur in the
glaze and, if the characteristic is desirable, is referred to as
Narcissus basin with light bluish-green glaze, Ru ware, National
Greenwares are found in earthenware from the
Shang dynasty onwards.
Wang Zhongshu states that shards with a celadon ceramic
glaze have been recovered from
Eastern Han Dynasty
Eastern Han Dynasty (25–220 AD) tomb
excavations in Zhejiang, and that this type of ceramic became well
known during the
Three Kingdoms (220–265). These are now often
called proto-celadons, and tend to browns and yellows, without much
The earliest major type of celadon was Yue ware, which was
succeeded by a number of kilns in north
China producing wares known as
Northern Celadons, sometimes used by the imperial court. The best
known of these is Yaozhou ware. All these types were already
widely exported to the rest of East Asia and the Islamic world.
Longquan celadon wares, were first made during the Northern Song, but
flourished under the Southern Song, as the capital moved to the south
and the northern kilns declined. This had bluish, blue-green, and
olive green glazes and the bodies increasingly had high silica and
alkali contents which resembled later porcelain wares made at
Dehua rather than stonewares.
All the wares mentioned above were mostly in, or aiming to be in, some
shade of green. Other wares which can be classified as celadons, were
more often in shades of pale blue, very highly valued by the Chinese,
or various browns and off-whites. These were often the most highly
regarded at the time and by later Chinese connoisseurs, and sometimes
made more or less exclusively for the court. These include Ru ware,
Guan ware and Ge ware, as well as earlier types such as the
"secret colour" (mi se) wares, finally identified when the crypt
Famen Temple was opened.
Large quantities of
Longquan celadon were exported throughout East
Asia, Southeast Asia and the Middle East in the 13th-15th century.
Large celadon dishes were especially welcomed in Islamic nations.
Since about 1420 the Counts of
Katzenelnbogen have owned the oldest
European import of celadon, reaching
Europe indirectly via the Islamic
world. This is a cup mounted in metal in Europe, and exhibited in
Kassel in the Landesmuseum. After the development of blue and
white porcelain in
Jingdezhen ware in the early 14th century, celadon
gradually went out of fashion in both Chinese and export markets, and
after about 1500 both the quality and quantity of production was much
reduced, though there were some antiquarian revivals of celadon glazes
on Jingdezhen porcelain in later centuries.
Decoration in Chinese celadons is normally only by shaping the body or
creating shallow designs on the flat surface which allow the glaze to
pool in depressions, giving a much deeper colour to accentuate the
design. In both methods carving, moulding and a range of other
techniques may be used. There is very rarely any contrast with a
completely different colour, except where parts of a piece are
sometimes left as unglazed biscuit in Longquan celadon.
Urine bottle, 251 CE
Yaozhou ware (Northern Celadon), with carved and engraved decoration,
Yaozhou ware, Shaanxi province, Song Dynasty, 10th-11th century
Ru ware bowl, with metal rim, produced exclusively for the Northern
Song emperors c. 1110–1125.
Warming Bowl in the Shape of a Flower with Light Bluish-green Glaze,
Flower vase with Iron Brown Spots (飛青磁花生), Longquan kiln,
Yuan Dynasty, 13–14th century (National Treasure)
Longquan celadon from Zhejiang, Ming Dynasty, 14-15th century
Censer with kingfisher glaze,
Goryeo Dynasty (National Treasure No.
Sanggam engraving inlaid design of a crane (left), scraping off excess
clay slip, used to fill in the engraving (right)
Chinese greenwares were very popular imports to Korea, and inspired
local potters. Exceptional high-quality celadons were produced in
Korea during the
Goryeo and Joseon dynasties. An inlaid greenware
technique known as sanggam, where potters would engrave semi-dried
pottery with designs and place black or white clay materials within
the engraving, was invented in
Korea during this time.
Korean greenware, also known as "
Goryeo celadon" is usually a pale
green-blue in color. The glaze was developed and refined during the
10th and 11th centuries during the
Goryeo period, from which it
derives its name. Korean greenware reached its zenith between the 12th
and early 13th centuries, however, the Mongol invasions of
the 13th century and persecution by the
Joseon Dynasty government
destroyed the craft.
Kiln Sites produced a large number of
Goryeo wares and
were a complex of 188 kilns. The kiln sites are located in
Jeollanam-do near the sea. Mountains in the north
provided the necessary raw materials such as firewood, kaolinite, and
silicon dioxide for the master potters while a well established system
of distribution transported pottery throughout
Korea and facilitated
China and Japan. The sites are tentatively listed as a World
Heritage by the South Korean government.
Traditional Korean greenware has distinctive decorative elements. The
most distinctive are decorated by overlaying glaze on contrasting clay
bodies. With inlaid designs, known as sanggam in Korean, small pieces
of colored clay are inlaid in the base clay. Carved or slip-carved
designs require layers of a different colored clay adhered to the base
clay of the piece. The layers are then carved away to reveal the
A number of items dating from the
Goryeo dynasty have been registered
by the government as a National Treasure of South Korea, such as a
Dragon kettle from the 12th century (National Treasure No. 61), a
maebyeong vase with sanggam engraved cranes (National Treasure No.
68), an elaborate censer with kingfisher glaze (National Treasure No.
95), and a pitcher in the shape of a
Dragon Turtle (National Treasure
Modern potters, with modern materials and tools, have attempted to
recreate Korean greenware techniques. An artist of the post-war era
who specialised in it was Living National Treasure Yu Geun-Hyeong
(유근형 ; 柳根瀅) (1894-1993). His work was documented
in the short film
Koryo Celadon in 1979. Another artist who was
also a Living National Treasure was Ji Suntaku (1912-1993). Icheon
Ceramics Village features hundreds of makers in the areas of
Sugwang-ri, Sindun-myeon, Saeum-dong in the city of Icheon.
The National Museum of
Korea in Seoul houses important celadon works
and national treasures. The
Haegang Ceramics Museum and the Goryeo
Celadon Museum are two regional museums that focus on Korean
Goryeo dynasty, 12th century (National Treasure No. 61)
Maebyeong vase with sanggam engraved cranes,
Goryeo dynasty, (National
Treasure No. 68)
Pitcher in the shape of a Dragon Turtle,
Goryeo dynasty, (National
Treasure No. 96)
Lidded Jar, Joseon dynasty (National Treasure No. 1071)
Kyō ware vase, 19th century
The Japanese pronunciation of the Chinese characters for greenware is
seiji (青磁). It was introduced during the
Song Dynasty (960-1270)
China and via Korea. Even though
Japan has arguably the most
diverse styles of ceramic art in the modern era, greenware was mostly
avoided by potters because of the high loss rate of up to 80%.
Kaolinite, the ceramic material usually used for the production of
porcelain, also does not exist in large quantities like in China. One
of the sources for kaolin in
Japan is from
Amakusa in Kyushu.
Nevertheless a number of artists emerged whose works received critical
acclaim in regards to the quality and colour of the glazes achieved,
as well as later on in the innovation of modern design.
Three pieces originally from
China have been registered by the
government as a national treasures. They are two flower vases from the
Longquan kiln dating to the southern Song dynasty in the 13th century,
and a flower vase with iron brown spots also from Longquan kiln dating
Yuan dynasty in the 13–14th century.
Production in the style of Longquan was centred around
Arita, Saga and
Saga Domain under the lords of the Nabeshima clan.
Greenware is also closed entwined with hakuji (白磁) white
porcelain. The glaze with a mixed subtle colour gradations of icy,
bluish white is called seihakuji (青白磁) porcelain. In Chinese
this type of glaze is known as Qingbai ware. Qingbai's history
goes back to the Song dynasty. It is biscuit-fired and painted with a
glaze containing small amounts of iron. This turns a bluish colour
when fired again. Japanese artists and clients tend to favour the
seihakuji bluish white glaze over the completely green glaze.
Pieces that are produced are normally tea or rice bowls, sake cups,
vases, and plates, and mizusashi water jars for tea ceremony, censers
and boxes. Some post-modern ceramic artists have however expanded into
the area of sculpture and abstract art as well.
Artists from the early Showa era are Itaya Hazan (1872-1963), Tomimoto
Kenkichi (1886-1963), Kato Hajme (1900-1968), Tsukamoto Kaiji
(塚本快示) (1912-1990), and Okabe Mineo (1919-1990), who
Guan ware with its crackled glaze. Tsukamoto Kaiji was
nominated a Living National Treasure in 1983 for his works in
seihakuji. Artists from the mid- to late Showa era were Shimizu Uichi
(1926-?), who also specialized in crackled glaze, Suzuki Osamu
(1926-2001), Miura Koheiji (1933-?), Suzuki Sansei (b. 1936),
Fukami Sueharu (b. 1947), and Takenaka Ko (b. 1941). During the Heisei
era artists are Masamichi Yoshikawa (b. 1946), Kawase Shinobu (b.
1950), Minegishi Seiko (b. 1952), Kubota Atsuko (b. 1953),
Yagi Akira (b. 1955) and Kato Tsubusa (加藤委) (b. 1962).
Artists such as Fukami Sueharu, Masamichi Yoshikawa, and Kato Tsubusa
also produce abstract pieces, and their works are part of a number of
national and international museum collections. Kato Tsubusa works
with kaolin from New Zealand.
Main article: Sangkhalok ceramic ware
Thai ceramics has its own tradition of greenware production. Medieval
Thai wares were initially influenced by Chinese greenware, but went on
to develop its own unique style and technique. One of the most famous
kilns during the
Sukhothai Kingdom were at S(r)i Satchanalai, around
Si Satchanalai District
Si Satchanalai District and
Sawankhalok District in Sukhothai
Province, north-central Thailand. Production started in the 13th
century CE and continued until the 16th century. The art reached its
apex in the 14th century.
Bowl with incised peony designs, Sri Satchanalai, 15th century
Bottle with two shoulder lugs, Sawankhalok, 15th century
Ceramic ware covered with celadon glaze, by Wanda Golakowska, Poland,
2nd half of 20th century
Outside of Asia a number of artists also worked with greenware to
varying degrees of success in regards to purity and quality. One of
the modern artists in Poland was Wanda Golakowska (1901-1975), whose
works are part of the collection of the
National Museum, Warsaw
National Museum, Warsaw and
National Museum, Kraków
National Museum, Kraków amongst others.
^ This is not be confused with "greenware", meaning unfired clay
pottery, as a stage of production
Porcelain Glossary: Celadon". Gotheborg.com. Retrieved
Celadon Essay Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History The
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^ a b Vainker, S.J., Chinese
Pottery and Porcelain, 1991, British
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^ Gompertz, 21
^ Dennis Krueger. "Why On Earth Do They Call It Throwing?" from
^ a b Dewar, Richard. (2002). Stoneware. Philadelphia: University of
Pennsylvania Press. ISBN 0-8122-1837-X, p. 42.
^ Wang, Zhongshu. (1982). Han Civilization. Translated by K.C. Chang
and Collaborators. New Haven and London: Yale University Press.
^ Gompertz, Ch. 1
^ Gompertz, Ch. 4
^ Gompertz, Ch. 6
^ Wood, Nigel. (1999). Chinese Glazes: Their Origins, Chemistry, and
Recreation. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press.
ISBN 0-8122-3476-6, pp. 75–76.
^ Gompertz, Ch. 4 and 5
^ Gompertz, Ch. 3
^ "Katzenelnbogener Weltrekorde: Erster RIESLING und erste
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^ Gompertz, Ch. 7 & 8
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Icheon Ceramics Village (이천도예마을) Official Korea
Tourism Organization". English.visitkorea.or.kr. Retrieved
^ a b "CELADON Menu - EY Net Japanese
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^ a b "Ambient Green Flow _ 青韻流動".
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^ "PORCELAIN Menu - EY Net Japanese
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^ ""Pure-pure" Seihakuji bowl Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art".
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^ "Yoshikawa Masamichi - Artists - Joan B Mirviss LTD Japanese Fine
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^ "Kawase Shinobu, Japanese
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^ "Minegishi Seiko,
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^ "Collection The Metropolitan Museum of Art". Metmuseum.org.
^ "Kato Tsubusa - White
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^ Roxanna M. Brown: The Sukhothai and Sawankhalok Kilns. In: Dies.:
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Korean art from the Gompertz and other collections in the Fitzwilliam
Museum, by Yong-i Yun, Regina Krahl
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