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georgeingraham

Firing Song Dynasty Chinese Funerary Jar / Spokane Washington

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I am reaching out for help to fire this Song Dynasty ( 960 - 1279 AD ) ceramic / stoneware Chinese funerary jar.  

I went to a couple of local shops, but one would not help, the other did not understand what they were looking at.

 Tried contacting the Washington Clay Arts Association, but no reply.

 For what ever reason  the kiln attendant ( got drunk and passed out , who knows.  ) did not leave this in long enough to melt the glaze.  

Would like to fire this at 1250 to 1300 °C in oxidizing to neutral atmosphere. 

One option of course is to use a modern kiln, but it would be a lot more fun to fire in a traditional earth/clay outdoor wood burning kiln.  An opportunity to fire a piece like this is likely never going to happen again and would like very much to hang out at the kiln, document, take pics, and just sort of feel like am back in the day and doing this piece a little justice.  Maybe do a late night dance around the kiln :)

 Any help would be greatly appreciated !  

 

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Edited by georgeingraham

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Here are a few examples for what the glaze should end up looking like. Although, most Tang and Song Dynasty type dark glazes pass thought a teadust phase as they fire, if underfired, that is, if the kiln temp is not quite high enough or if the appropriate temp is not maintained for a sufficient length of time, the glaze will mature tea dust rather than black. 

With Greater heat and a more thorough melt, Tang/Song dynasty teadust glazes transform into a dull black and dull brown colors. With still more heat they begin to show the rich, subtle and glossy glazes. For these more mature glaze qualities firing temps in the 1260 to 1300 ce range is needed . 

 

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Edited by georgeingraham

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If it, in fact, a real Song Dynasty piece, you'd be nuts to do anything to it! Don't you watch Antiques Roadshow? That piece could be worth tens of thousands $$$. If you were to refire it, it could be worth about 10 cents. I agree with Neil and Babs here. 

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Thank you all for the replies. Yes it is authentic.  I wish to bring the glaze out to it's full potential.  It is worth the risk, which in my humble opinion is minimal.. 

So I am still looking for someone who is willing to fire this for me..  Hopefully in a wood burning kiln, but a modern kiln will do the trick just fine.. 

Edited by georgeingraham

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Well of course if you own such a treasure you can do what the ....you want with it right???:_///

Hope whoever fires it for you has a good insurance cover.

I wouldnt put such a piece in a kiln load of my stuff,  it might blow apart and wreck my load

Large Chinese community on westcoast. Perhaps  contact it for advice.

 

 

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12 hours ago, georgeingraham said:

Thank you all for the replies. Yes it is authentic.  I wish to bring the glaze out to it's full potential.  It is worth the risk, which in my humble opinion is minimal.. 

So I am still looking for someone who is willing to fire this for me..  Hopefully in a wood burning kiln, but a modern kiln will do the trick just fine.. 

The risk is not minimal at all. There is no guarantee that the glaze won't over-melt, or the pot itself won't melt or deform or crack, all of which could do damage to the kiln or other pieces, especially in a wood kiln where they tend to go to cone 12 or 14. A wood kiln will also get ash all over it, which will change the glaze, so you'd need to make a saggar for it. Refiring a piece that has been vitrified, even partially vitrified, runs the risk of cracking the clay. A glaze that has already been melted will behave differently in refire. There are dozens of variables at play here. I certainly wouldn't put it in any of my kilns. My feeling is that if the maker thought it needed to be refired, then he would have done it. As a potter/artist, I would be angry if someone decided they needed to 'fix' one of my pots.

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george, why not just donate it to  the Smithsonian institution in DC for their very good Freer Gallery of Asian  Art  museum?  maybe someone else's opinion of its value as is would sway your thinking.

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My question would be are there ethical and legal ramifications from altering a piece like this? Ai Weiwei comes to mind as perhaps an extreme example. How would refiring this item change its value as an antique or as an archeological piece?

I wouldn't touch a project like this with someone else's hand.

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As you live in Washington State, I would make an appointment with the head of the Conservation Department at the Seattle Art Museum before you do anything rash. The Seattle Asian Art Museum collection may be the best Asian art collection outside of Japan, and the museum conservator is one of the best in the country.

He has wide and deep experience with objects across the collection, both conserving them and  attempting to reverse ill-conceived efforts to conserve ancient things. I have heard him speak several times and been in his conservation lab.

I am sure he can give you good insight into what makes sense to do to take respectful care of this precious and irreplaceable object. 

 

 

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Please don’t even consider doing anything to this “authentic piece of historical pottery.  Once you alter its original condition it’s devalued to almost nothing.  As suggested , have it assessed and enjoy what you have . 

 

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Yes we could all talk you through the process but the bigger issue is we seem to ALL agree to leave it alone. 

I think the post above says its all

(Please don’t even consider doing anything to this “authentic piece of historical pottery.  Once you alter its original condition it’s devalued to almost nothing.  As suggested , have it assessed and enjoy what you have . )

Its been hundrerds of years and thats the beauty of your piece._If you called me  to fire it I would also say no.

If you still want to do this take Gabbys addvice

 

  • (As you live in Washington State, I would make an appointment with the head of the Conservation Department at the Seattle Art Museum before you do anything rash. The Seattle Asian Art Museum collection may be the best Asian art collection outside of Japan, and the museum conservator is one of the best in the country.

He has wide and deep experience with objects across the collection, both conserving them and  attempting to reverse ill-conceived efforts to conserve ancient things. I have heard him speak several times and been in his conservation lab.

I am sure he can give you good insight into what makes sense to do to take respectful care of this precious and irreplaceable object)

 

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What are your travel limitations?  Firing in China? I can’t say if anyone would be interested in your piece not personally knowing enough on those works but I have many friends and connections with experts across China and can ask the question and possibly get you valuable information on the various aspects of your decision should the piece be valuable enough to generate interest and if no one cares you are probably just fine doing with it as you wish. 

PM me if you want me to ask

clark

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2 hours ago, 1515art said:

What are your travel limitations?  Firing in China? I can’t say if anyone would be interested in your piece not personally knowing enough on those works but I have many friends and connections with experts across China and can ask the question and possibly get you valuable information on the various aspects of your decision should the piece be valuable enough to generate interest and if no one cares you are probably just fine doing with it as you wish. 

PM me if you want me to ask

clark

I will gratefully accept any help you or your friends can offer..  

In my opinion the piece will not increase much in value even after melting the glaze and bringing it to its full potential luster.  I would not place a value any greater than 300 to 400 dollars once the glaze is successfully fired.  And I do not want to sell it, so would pay for return mailing.. 

I am familiar with the Asian Art forum.  I will post there and see what the feedback is.  I did post to Gotheborg,  but no helpful response towards getting this fired. 

I am happy to mail this to China.  I really do want to bring this glaze to fruition. 

There are traditional kilns still operating in China that would understand how to fire this, like those of Jingdezhen, and also Hebei province. But even if I could contact any of them directly, the language barrier is a problem. 

I will take you up on any help you can offer, and big thank you for your reply to this post  :)

Edited by georgeingraham

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george, can you tell us it’s history and How you can be certain of its authenticity and origin? Im also wondering why you believe it will have more than decorative value after refiring assuming it survives? 

Edited by 1515art

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3 hours ago, 1515art said:

george, can you tell us it’s history and How you can be certain of its authenticity and origin? Im also wondering why you believe it will have more than decorative value after refiring assuming it survives? 

These Northern China, Song Dynasty funerary jars are quite common..  All share the same three clawed dragons chasing the flaming pearl theme, combined with the 12 celestial beings.  Not to mention the very noticeable buff red clay also common to these black wares.  Also, the glaze was applied by "dipping" the piece in a glaze slurry,  again a trademark common for these wares. 

It will have more decorative value because the glaze will be fired properly resulting in it matching other brown/black ware Northern and Southern Song Dynasty pieces from the period.  

I would like the glaze to have it's meant to be, lustrous glossy finish, like these other Song Dynasty examples attached. 

Most all of these funerary jars are a Qingbai ( Ding ware ) Ware type glaze .  It is a bit rare to find one in black. 

https://www.facebook.com/groups/903467689720550/permalink/2157065121027461/

 

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Edited by georgeingraham

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George, thank you for the information interesting piece, I was more focused in it’s recent history how you came to own it and I’m guessing it’s been to a few experts or evaluations? You have knowledge of it and knowing some of that history will help, I’d imagine there are concerns beyond damage to just the kiln, any work being fired within the near proximity to your  jar should it react unexpectedly would be in jeopardy.  Another issue to consider, many copies are produced and have been for a very long time as I’m sure you are aware and it’s important to be certain of the materials used in the process of making it and their temperature range. It could be fired in it’s own sagger even then I think you are going to invest  many times it’s retail decorative value in the process. Shipping will be expensive to and from China and you need to be aware of customs restrictions on antiquities some things going in can’t come back out.

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