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A Little Treasure Chest 3

During the Sung dynasty (960-1127 northern Sung, 1127-1279 southern Sung), the production of Chinese porcelain boomed. Countless workshops of large and smaller potteries were established, mostly in southern China.

This era saw the rise of the blue and white porcelain, which was destined for a great future. The art of porcelain decoration, too, developed into a unique new style during the Sung dynasty, and this style reached perfection later in the Yuan dynasty (1280-1368).
The technique and handling of blue and white decoration required extreme skill. The painters applied the pattern onto the dry but not yet fired work piece. Painting on this raw work piece was a bit like painting on blotting paper: Its ability to absorb is a major problem. Every stroke of the brush was irrevocable and could not be corrected. Everything needed to be done with extreme concentration and skill.
After painting, the piece was covered with a thin transparent glaze and gloss fired at very high temperatures (about 1300° - 1400° C). The high temperatures caused the clay to become porcelain and the glaze to get a glass-like solidity.

The shohin and mame pots shown here in the Little Treasure Chest are quite young in comparison, of course, but nevertheless they are rooted in the history just described.

Size: 26,5 cm diameter, 13,5 cm height


Size: 19,5 cm diameter, 12,5 cm height

This pot shows a garden scenery with three meditating men or philosophers. They probably represent the “Three Wise Men” or the “Three Old Men”, as the elders in a village were called.

In the Western countries we tend to admire the freedom and atmosphere in these works of art, or we categorise them by their handcraft, by shape or glaze.

We should however keep in mind that the Chinese artists made these works to transform the people who owned them. The daily use of these items should make them aware of the “Tao” and prepare them for inner change. In that respect, these works of art are beyond words.


Size: 11 cm diameter, 5,6 cm height


Size: 10.3 cm diameter, 5,7 cm he


Size: 10 cm diameter, 6,5 cm height


All pots presented here are from the collection of Paul Lesniewicz.

Text and photographs: Peter Krebs
Translation: Heike van Gunst