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Lecture: Refinement of Taste—Chinese Ceramics of the Tang and Song Dynasties

April 30, 2013
Nichols Board of Trustees Suite
$20/$30 lecture, $50/$60 lunch and lecture

The Song dynasty (960–1279) witnessed the perfection of subtly hued, monochrome-glazed stoneware, from the jade green Ru and Longquan celadon wares to the bluish-gray guan (official court) ware to the brown- and black-glazed wares that were prized for tea drinking. Such Song ceramics represent the culmination of a millennium of experimentation and development, beginning with the earliest intentionally glazed stonewares, which were created in the Han dynasty (206 B.C.–A.D. 220), continuing through the Six Dynasties (220–618) and Tang (618–907), when great progress was made, and reaching maturation in the Song dynasty.

Robert D. Mowry, Alan J. Dworsky Curator of Chinese Art and head of the Department of Asian Art at the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard University, will survey that development, focusing both on aesthetic concerns and the technical limitations and challenges that Song dynasty potters faced and overcame to achieve their virtually unparalleled ceramic triumphs. In discussing the aesthetics of Song ceramics, the lecture will also explore the recurring interplay between indigenous intellectual trends and foreign tastes—the latter typically introduced through goods carried over the Silk Road, particularly during the Tang dynasty. By contrast, the Song saw a marked shift away from the foreign and toward a revival of tradition. With the discovery of archaic bronzes and jades during the Northern Song period, Chinese intellectuals began to eschew the foreign aesthetic in favor of native Chinese taste with antique references to the Great Bronze Age. By exploring the relationship between Song decorative arts and intellectual outlook, this talk will also offer insight into the origins of ceramic forms and motifs and into cultural values

Asian Art Council members: $20 lecture, $50 lunch and lecture
Nonmembers: $30 lecture, $60 lunch and lecture

For more information, contact Susan Packard at (312) 443-7282.

Presented as part of the Encounters with Asia series by the Asian Art Council

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Chinese. Incense Burner in the form of a Duck, Song Dynasty (960–1279). Gift of Russell Tyson.